ON Sunday evening (July 17) four hopeful situation-comedy writers showcased their skills in a battle to win ‘The Sitcom Trials 2016’ competition. This year the heats came to Manchester, for the first time, on their quest to find the new Fawlty Towers, Mighty Boosh, or Mrs Browns Boys. Quays News entertainment reporter Rae Coppola went along to scout the talent of the future…
Kev. F. Sutherland played host to the evening, warming the audience up from the get-go, with his flip-board antics, and marker pen drawings of the cast of the Royle Family. He was charismatic, yet professional, armed with an array of situation-comedy knowledge and trivia.
— The Sitcom Trials (@SitcomTrials) July 18, 2016
He introduced ‘The Sitcom Trials’ as part of the long running So You Think You Write Funny competition, whereby the audience play a role in determining the winner, along with a team of judges in the final.
The winners of the heats, from up and down the country, will compete head-to-head in Edinburgh, with the finalist going on to perform their very own show at the Glided Balloon at the following year’s Fringe Festival.
Miranda Hart was the winner of the very first Edinburgh run, and has since made a name for herself, skyrocketing after her joke-shop based self-titled sitcom.
With scripts and props in their hands, the actors performed each sitcom for the live audience, ready for them to vote on the best and give the entrants a chance to match her success. The catch was to choose carefully, as the sitcoms were cut short and they could only see the winner’s ending.
First up was ‘Vlog Eat Vlog’ by Christy White-Spunner, a comic take on the younger generations dependence on social media and the internet.
It featured two very different Youtubers, one with a palette fit for the Guinness Book of World Records and a ‘feminist’, both battling for newly moved in neighbour Miss Everywoman’s love.
It was an original concept, made all the more hilarious with the socially awkward character personas, and ‘witty’ one liners that always ended up being more than one line. Although this sitcom did not win, it was a strong contender, and I’m sure others were eager to see the hard to predict ending.
Next to grace the stage was Andy Partington’s ‘Lost Cause’, in which a mature babysitter loses five-year-old Julian, who just so happens to be mute, after entering into a contract with his rich – from ‘new money’ – mother.
The sitcom was full of bread-related puns, irony, and awkward comedy. It was perhaps a too little predictable, and so missing the ending was no great shame.
Giving the audience a bit of variety, ‘Babestation’ by Stephen Lawson was pre-recorded and shown on the projector afterwards as the student creators had travelled for the summer.
It showcased the set of an Adult TV channel, and the director’s attempt to throw some sophistication into the mix, mainly in the form of hummus.
Although it earned bouts of audience laughter, the cliffhanger was fairly predictable and it did not make the cut.
Last but most definitely not least was ‘Adam & Eve & Steve’ by Sean Fee. The script transported viewers back to an alternate Garden of Eden during the days of creation whereby the snake (also known as Keith), was not the enemy.
The character of Steve scored points for witty lines and clever acknowledgment of the name Steve being like Eve, but with extra letters that gave it something more.
It was a comic take on a well-known story, and a deserving winner as such the majority of the audience thought.
Lots of funny ideas thrown about in the @SitcomTrials tonight, Adam and Eve and Steve, a new take on the garden of Eden, was the favourite
— Adam Lewis (@ad_lew) July 17, 2016
It is now a waiting game to see if Manchester’s own Sean Fee will thrive at the final in Edinburgh, without God on the character’s sides.
By Rae Coppola