Dead Ant

Review: ‘Sketchy Behaviour’ Has Some Sparkling Performances & Snappy Writing

By Ajay Krishnan 22 February 2019

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Amazon Prime Video | 1 hr 3 min | Released: February 2019

In the improv and sketch shows that have gone up on Amazon Prime Video so far, many competent standup comics have shown themselves to be less competent as actors and improv comics. They seem to have poor awareness of space and body, and of the give and take of energy that’s needed between performers who share a stage. With Sketchy Behaviour, Kenny Sebastian and Kanan Gill confidently raise the bar, delivering a well-executed show that will hopefully inspire other comics to improve their sketch game. While Gill is a competent comic actor, Sebastian is frequently brilliant, disappearing into the most preposterous roles with utmost sincerity, giving no indication that he’s in on the joke—which only makes him funnier.

Sketchy Behaviour – The Trailer.

The first sketch features a customer (played by Gill) at a restaurant trying to order a fresh lime soda from a waiter (played by Sebastian) who is more than a little strange. It’s amusing, and quite tightly written, but doesn’t quite lift off as an idea.

The Flat Lime Soda sketch from Sketchy Behaviour.

But things begin to pick up with the second sketch. This one features Sebastian as the driver of a car who picks up a very peculiar hitchhiker. The banter between the two quickly builds into an engaging plot, leading to an ending that is satisfying even if a bit predictable. But it’s not the sketch as a whole so much that makes it a fun watch—it’s mainly Sebastian. There’s a moment here when his character is responding to some disturbing conversational overtures from Gill’s, and for several moments confusion and fear flit over his face before he says a word. It’s a superb display of comic acting.

Sebastian only gets better from that point on. In fact, in the sketches that follow Gill perks up too, particularly in the next one, where he plays a dudebro trying to break up with his girlfriend.

The Break-Up sketch from Sketchy Behaviour.

This is just an excellent sketch—a deliciously absurd premise, finely crafted escalation and two spot-on performances. Its surreal looping is reminiscent of some of the work of Mr House, such as ‘The Audition’, or the hedge sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, in both of which a strange kink in the fabric of the universe leads to a demented comic spiral.

Sebastian turns in what must rank as one of the finest performances yet by an Indian comedian in a sketch. It helps that Sebastian is in great physical shape—he darts across the stage, pulling off eye-poppingly quick shifts of mood that he makes seem effortless.

The duo continue to sail for the next two sketches. In one, Gill plays a chair while Sebastian plays different characters who come in and out of the room, most hilariously a tormented, self-important actor, distraught after the failure of his play. He declaims the silliest lines with such intensity that even Gill has a hard time keeping a straight face.

The show peaks with the next sketch, about an exorcist, played by Gill, visiting a home to get rid of a spirit. To give away any more would be to spoil the fun, but suffice to say it is rivetingly written, smoothly executed and hilarious. Sebastian turns in what must rank as one of the finest performances yet by an Indian comedian in a sketch. It helps that he’s in great physical shape—he darts across the stage, pulling off eye-poppingly quick shifts of mood that he makes seem effortless.

The last sketch features a therapist, played by Gill, talking to a patient. It’s clever, even if not as funny as the ones that precede it—but you’ll probably be sated enough by this point to not particularly mind. The show ends by tying up several meta threads that run through its length and essentially collapsing in on itself. Sketches, and sketch compilations, are notoriously difficult to end. That the duo manages for the most part to do so neatly (both in individual sketches and the show overall), while hitting several highs along the way, is impressive. Sketchy Behaviour is well worth the hour you’ll spend on it.

Dead Ant review policy: 1) We pay for shows that we review. 2) When we review live shows of any kind, we might mention subjects that are dealt with, but will avoid more detailed discussion of premises or jokes. 3) When we review or discuss YouTube videos and OTT specials, since they are already accessible across locations, we may get into more details discussions of the material. These reviews aim to foster closer conversations about comedy, and hence are for people who have already watched the videos, or don’t mind knowing details of it beforehand.

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