Low Effort Sketches (Alice Wickersham and Andy Bucks) at the Corpus PlayroomLow Effort Sketches with permission for Varsity

What do comedians do when they’ve won one of the most well-known comedy awards in the country? For Alice and Andy of Low Effort Sketches, this question sent them into an existential spiral following their win at the 2022 Sketch Off! competition. Now that they’d snagged their win, what next? The answer came in a self-imposed challenge to top their winning submission by writing an hour of new original comedy. The endeavour culminated in Low Effort Sketches: The First Effort, which I had the pleasure of seeing last night at the Corpus Playroom.

“I certainly did react applaudingly — and so did the rest of the audience”

The show opened with the pair introducing themselves, clearly setting the stage for the metatextual, fourth-wall-breaking show ahead. After they opened with a revue of their winning trio of sketches — an extreme gender role reversal, a playful use of the NATO alphabet, and a high-pitched, soulful rendition of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King — the pair quickly pivoted to exploring what might be even funnier in hopes of moving beyond their previous success. They tried prop comedy, used innovative lighting and sound effects, and brought audience members into the mix with volunteer voiceovers and a challenge of wit they called the ‘Invagination Game’. (Stop what you’re thinking: an invagination is any example of a folded-back or folded-on-itself pouch or cavity.) Even without audience participation, everyone was quick to cheer, roar and laugh at every sketch put on.

“Even without audience participation, everyone was quick to cheer, roar and laugh”

A major hiccup among sketch shows in Cambridge is that most come together in the hours leading up to their début — while these shows pull it off, it’s still usually clear that the actors are piecing things together as they perform. Not so with The First Effort. The performers had a well-prepared set while still maintaining their charming, off-the-cuff repartée. It was unexpected and enjoyable to hear snippets of their process of bringing the show to the stage, whether directed to each other or to the audience, as they teed up each sketch. Performing comedy as a duo has its challenges, but this pair had the experience to know how to deal with the obstacles. At times, people in the audience didn’t always seem to know when a sketch was over, though Alice and Andy did a great job of having clear endings for each sketch. Andy did warn the audience in advance that he and Alice would leave gaps between sets to give people a chance to respond. “React applaudingly,” he instructed.


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I certainly did react applaudingly — and so did the rest of the audience, throughout the hour of laughter that Alice and Andy brought for us. The First Effort culminated in a wonderfully chaotic mash-up of the pair’s practised routines and newly tested material — props, technical tricks, and of course a second rendition of “Circle of Life” with the audience joining in this time. As the duo left the stage, I remained in my seat for a while longer, wondering where the hour had gone, and looking forward to when I could see Low Effort Sketches’ next effort come to life.

Low Effort Sketches: The First Effort showed at the Corpus Playroom on Tuesday 9th May, 9:30PM.