Vidya Divakaran for S.H.E.E.P.

I was out in a field recently, desultorily munching on some grass. I say desultorily, because I was full. Yes, that’s right dear readers, I was full up on grass. Sated, if you will. “How full I am!” I thought, “If only there was some other appetite I could joy in sating!” It was then, dear readers, that I remembered. I was positively famished when it came to online comedy! As quickly as I could, I dashed away from the field on all four of my legs and looked for the first bit of online comedy I could find! The most recent show at the time was called ’S.H.E.E.P.: A Sketch Show’. “Aha! Right down my alley!” I thought, “What with my propensity for eating grass, baaing at passers-by and travelling on all four of my legs, this show should be pretty swell viewing for one such as me!” I don’t think I would be lying, gentle readers, if I were to say that I wasn’t too far from the mark with this assumption.

“S.H.E.E.P has a certain variety and rhythm that keeps it constantly entertaining and surprising.”

What is ‘S.H.E.E.P.: A Sketch Show’, then? Well, it’s a sketch show, really. Like all sketch shows – this is, to some extent, inevitable with the format – not all the sketches are quite as strong as the others. But all of them, even the less successful ones, have enough in them to keep the thing rolling like a stone down a particularly steep hill. There’s also a nice mixture of short form and long form sketches, Zoom sketches and on-location sketches, satirical sketches and silly sketches. This gives the show a certain variety and rhythm that keeps it entertaining and surprising. We go from comedic monologues to advertisements for head sauce, and from a relaxing programme for sheep to the dangerous ravings of an overzealous Tannoy announcer. This variety never feels disjointed, however. Though there are some daring loops and drops in this little comedy rollercoaster, they’re never so extreme as to fling you out the car and send you hurtling towards the concrete below.

But what is it, precisely, that helps keep these various units hanging together? Well, the cast have enough verve, conviction and downright durability to make any uphill stretches feel less arduous, any flat stretches less flat, or – mixing my metaphors even more disastrously – any less moustachioed parts feel more moustachioed. It would be too unwieldy for the confines of this review if I were to give a roll call of praise for the entire cast, so I’m afraid I’ll have to mention them as a collective. The fact that a small cast was operating in so many sketches also gave them a chance to display their versatility, while also making things easier for the viewer. Rather than being introduced to a fresh face every five minutes, you get to see people grow across the whole running time.

“The show reached its heights when it jumped face first into absurdity and didn’t look back.”

In terms of highlights, there were a few sketches here and there that had me guffawing like a donkey. One sketch, concerning two people trying to plan a stay at an Airbnb, took a turn into such gloriously unexpected absurdity that I almost laughed my heart out of my gullet. On the other end of the spectrum, a relaxation programme for sheep gained massive laughs – from me, at least – through the sheer power of repetition. Another definite highlight of the show was a musical one, which was a heart-warming song sung by a hitman to his love. Snatches of that song are still circling round the back of my brain as I type this very sentence now, in fact. The show reached its heights, as you have probably already guessed, when it jumped face first into absurdity and didn’t look back. One sketch which I thought demonstrated this absurdity at its best was one in which a man decides he would like to divorce his wife. There’s only one snag; his wife is a pigeon. This is the kind of snortingly incongruous situation that – for me, at least – drives the bus straight to giggle town. Thanks to this show, I got to spend a lot of time in good old giggle town. They’ve some nice sandstone buildings there.


Mountain View

Nepotism: A misunderstood, misused buzzword

Of course, one thing which it would be remiss of me to mention is the wonderful editing AND animation which brings out the timing of so many of these sketches. After all, online comedy without good editing is like a dinner without lard and gravy. It’s just not the same. And when it comes to Mahon Hughes and Lucy Green, those two editors edited this thing into shape, alright. The timing of cutaways, as well as insert shots, was often wonderfully done, especially in the sketch concerning a man and his mirror, of which I’ll say no more. And of course, the animations by Vidya Divakaran gave the show a quirky funk, particularly the sketch concerning the poor overweening sheep who talk themselves into destruction.

On the whole, this sketch show was a lovely way to pass the time until I hungered for grass again. A most pleasant experience, to be sure. But I feel my belly pining for those sumptuous blades of grass once more, and so I must obey its call! Off to the fresh, fresh grass I creep.