The Taproom, Highbury and Islington, London, 29/11/2019.
Devised by the man behind the Comedy Auction held at the same venue, This Is Your Trial is another fairly high concept piece of improv where in each performance three comedians take on the roles of either a judge, a prosecutor or a defence lawyer and then argue the cases presented to them by the audience, who beforehand are asked to write down on a piece of paper minor gripes they have with their friends and / or family.
It’s a great concept too, allowing the comedians to interact with audience members, mostly in an affectionate manner but occasionally slightly teasing them too. Taking part in this particular performance was Thom Tuck of The Penny Dreadfuls, who performed rather beautifully as the stoic but likeable judge, while Ed Coleman and Sarah Bennetto were equally as good as the lawyers for the prosecution and for the defence respectively.
It occasionally feels slightly pantomime-esque with the audience booing and hissing Coleman’s sometimes evil lawyer, or indeed a member of the public if he turned out to be a bit mean, but it’s all incredibly good natured and likeable stuff. Like all improv which involves a lot of audience interaction it could vary enormously depending on who the audience are of course, but the comedians are so good that I doubt it’d ever disappoint, and it definitely didn’t do so this time around.
The first trial saw a woman accused of reckless endangerment as she was exposing her knees via ripped jeans and could presumably easily hurt herself, both the defence and the prosecution put across strong cases as to whether she should be found guilty or not, and it was a great way to warm up the room and introduce the concept of the show. Which got even better with the second case where a father accused his daughter “Bob Chuckles” (which plausibly might not have been her real name) of spending too much time on her phone. Like Comedy Auction this is a show which attracts a family audience, and it works even more effectively as both comedians interacted with “Bob” in a very funny manner, and playfully teased her father as well.
Two further cases followed, one where a man was accused by his neighbour of being ageist and who was quite happy to have his character assassinated (albeit in an amicable manner), while the last saw two friends complaining about their other friend of being always late, and once again the comedians involved mined a lot of very funny material concerning these seemingly trivial events.
This particular performance was an immensely enjoyable show, Thom Tuck held everything together remarkably professionally while also providing some gorgeously funny lines, Coleman was a superb prosecuting lawyer and very happy to be the villain of the day, while Sarah Bennetto was not only a very convincing defence lawyer but one who made me laugh a great deal too. All impressed so much that I’d love to see all three perform stand up on their own, and due to their efforts This Is Your Trial is definitely a comedy show I plan to see again and again.
The This Is Your Trial Website.