Alice and Andy - the brains (and bodies) behind 'Low Effort Sketches'.Andy Hollingworth Archive with permission for Varsity

Take it from somebody who’s been doing sketch comedy for over six years: nothing about the process – from writing to staging – is low-effort. Sure, sometimes a joke or two might pop into one’s head in a flash, demanding to be written down (even at 4am in the morning), but crafting a truly funny sketch, let alone a full sketch show, is a time - and energy - consuming process.

Imagine my surprise when I heard about an upcoming show at the Corpus Playroom titled Low Effort Sketches: The First Effort.Preposterous,” I thought. “Inconceivable! No such thing as low effort sketch comedy!” But behind the “low effort” name lies two clever and witty comedians who are preparing to bring a fun and unique show to the Cambridge comedy scene.

“Behind the ‘low effort’ name lies two clever and witty comedians”

Low Effort Sketches is a duo composed of Alice and Andy, a postdoctoral mental health researcher and an astronomy PhD student, respectively. They first met in secondary school and became friends – “thanks to our shared ridiculous sense of humour,” said Alice; “because we were at the bottom of the social hierarchy and options were limited,” said Andy. While living together in a house share in London, Andy started bringing Alice along to his stand-up gigs, and they joined comedic forces in 2017 as Low Effort Sketches.

Their first gig went well enough to convince them to keep going, and in 2022, they won the Leicester Square Theatre’s Sketch Off! competition. Winning a major sketch comedy competition doesn’t seem low in effort at all, but Alice and Andy clarified that their name is meant to distinguish them from other comedians at gigs. “We often perform in line-ups of solo stand-up comedians, so our act name is a way of signalling to the audience that they’re about to see something a bit different,” said Alice. She added, “We are sometimes mistakenly introduced as ‘Low Energy Sketches’ and ‘Low Effect Sketches’ – we consider these to be equally accurate.” Sure enough, the duo use their moniker in hopes of keeping audience expectations low. “Between writing our first sketches and performing them,” said Andy, “we decided it would be prudent to set expectations nice and low.”

“The duo use their moniker in hopes of keeping audience expectations low”

So what exactly should audiences expect at Low Effort Sketches: The First Effort? “Lots of silly nonsense, some screaming, and perhaps a little bit of audience participation,” said Alice. Andy added, “what might make it different from other sketch shows you may have seen is that it’s just the two of us on stage, and we don’t really have any scene or even character changes. It’s almost like stand-up, but with two people.” This description in particular intrigues me – I’m so used to sketch comedy shows with clear scene changes and a sizable cast, like Channel 4 Squared or The Really Late Show, that a stand-up-like sketch comedy show is a unique premise. In The First Effort, Andy and Alice will be putting on a variety of sketches, including a reimagining of the UK Singles chart, an alternative explanation for how World War II started, a vicar working in a bureau de change, and Scooby Doo on trial for fraud. Celebrity “cameos” (courtesy of impersonations by Alice and Andy) will include Ringo Starr, Buzz Aldrin, and Julius Caesar.


Mountain View

‘Channel 4 Squared’ is better than a night in front of the telly

When asked to describe their style of comedy, Alice responded, “haphazard, giving the impression that we haven’t prepared – but we have, honest!”. Andy joked,“Alice will have prepared, at least.” It’s clear from interviewing the two of them that Alice and Andy have a strong rapport and an admirable ability to riff off one other. Seeing the two of them respond to each other, highlights the “low effort” part of their name because their banter and easygoing quips seem effortless. At the end of our interview, I asked if they had anything they’d like to hype up in advance of next week’s performance. “I want to hype up the sheer availability of tickets,” said Andy. “No, but for real,” he continued, “we’re really proud of this show, so we just hope the audience enjoys it!”

Low Effort Sketches will perform at 9:30PM on Tuesday, May 9th at the Corpus Playroom.