As much as I love all kinds of comedy, podcasts are the only thing that I don’t tend to listen to that often for annoying and embarrassing reasons, as my irritating brain gets distracted when I’m only listening to audio humour and wants visuals to go along with it. It’s frustrating as I know there are some amazing podcasts out there like Comedy Bang! Bang!, A Very British Horror and everything Andy Daly’s been involved with, and hopefully one day if I keep on smashing my head against the wall I’ll fix my malfunctioning mind and be able to listen to many more.
So if a podcast is going to impress me it’s got to be good is the long and the short of it, and thankfully This, That And The Other falls in to such a category. Created by Adam Lloyd and Patrick Heaviside with Sam Anderson joining them from episode five onwards, it’s a sketch based series which only began in July 2018 but so far they’ve completed the first series consisting of six episodes and two specials. For the purposes of this review I’ve so far only listened to the first, but on the strength of it I’ve already downloaded the rest
It starts with a brief introduction and a very short daft skit where a dance which we sadly can’t see is performed, before it leaps in to a sports commentators sketch. Such a thing has been done many a time over the years but it’s skilfully performed and has a lot of pleasingly silly lines like “He’s a fair umpire and only has a bad game on Tuesdays”, and special mention must go to their ability to create silly names many of which are as good as those found in Toast Of London. Next up is a fake advert for a Beard Playset so that daughters can copy their hairy fathers, where “our appointed beard farmers ensure the beards in our products are raised with the love and care that you’d expect” which along with various other lines made me laugh a lot.
Following on from this is “Etiquette Show – Cutlery And Plates” where a posh type and a northerner discuss dining etiquette. It’s not quite as strong as what’s preceded it but still contains a good few moments which will make you smile. Then after a brief bit of music the next sketch begins with a burst of Stanley Unwin style comic language, it’s something which is hard to pull off but they do so in a striking manner and it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, like nearly all of the sketches in the episode. A children’s show, Time Town is the ensuing sketch, which is wacky stuff bar the occasional bouts of swearing and cruelty that is appealingly childish. Another advert for the Beard Playset comes after, and the final line”No longer endorsed by the KKK” caught me off guard and made me laugh a fair amount. Then there’s Pure Imagination with Alan Keyes, a home makeover show where they improve “a grotty little hovel” and Keyes is often amusingly irritated by the reaction from the home owner and doesn’t care that he’s created something horrendous.
There’s three sketches in the final section, with Pet Psychic – Chuppa The Dog being the first in which John Huntsman talks to a pug with an eating disorder. As with all psychics he’s clearly a charlatan but they have fun with the concept, with Huntsman claiming that the dog’s racist towards Scottish people, and once again it’s entertaining material. After this is Tipz Zone, a deliberately inane parody of gaming tips segments on tv shows which comes complete with spoofs of nonsensical technical terminology and cliched surfer talk. Though not the best thing in the show, and the only sketch which goes on a bit too long, it still made me grin an awful lot, especially when it’s revealed that one of the presenters killed a kid. Finally there’s Bioengineered Fruit Men, a gloriously absurd song which may well just be my favourite thing about the episode, though it has a great deal of competition.
Sketch shows seem to have died a death on our tv screens right now, and those that have recently aired have been quite weak, so it’s great to know that they live on in audio form. The production side of things is impressive, having been involved in a few online audio plays I know how difficult it is to create something where all the voices are clear and the sound effects fit proceedings, so kudos must go to them for creating a professional sounding work. But the most important thing is that it made me laugh hard, and did so throughout, they’ve a real way with words, their acting skills are considerable, and it’s immensely inventive from start to finish, so if you love podcasts or comedy of any kind you should download it right now.