Simply the Jest

Sun 19th – Sat 25th August 2012


Charlie Brookhouse

at 09:59 on 20th Aug 2012



‘Middle Class Tripe’ may sound a bit fishy, but this really is a top class show from Simply the Jest. In a relentless string of sketches the comics take pot shots at the middling, muddling, sharp-elbowed sorts from up-town suburbia. This is the kind of show that’s going to generate a hideous number of quotes for over-excitable audience members. ‘I’m sooooo insuuulted’ becomes the refrain of a sketch called ‘Maids in Chelsea’: two bitchy blondes gossip about seeming minutiae before threatening to reveal the most prim maid’s predilection for BDSM. These air-headed and light-hearted characters have been carefully refined by Ella Aimesworth, Rosie Abraham and Bryony Twydale. As they indulge and delight in their King’s Road clichés there’s a brief awareness of the consoling absurdity of all class distinctions. The performance is simple and slick and gives way to similar sketches with more devastating one-liners. A sneak preview: “Today we look at a man who mistook a Basset Hound for his girlfriend.” … “I married the bitch”.

Most of Simply the Jest’s (pun)chlines smack of propriety, piety and pity. Frequently the stage is turned into a place for confession. At once, we laugh at the confessors diminutive anxieties and pathetic candor, the almost violent response of a vicar or priest comparing a reticent prayer group. However, over and above this the very popularisation of confession by television is under examination. Think Jeremy Kyle, Trisha, Big Brother and the trite fillers of their participants: ‘literally’, ‘not gonna lie’, ‘to be honest’. Televised articulations of self-worth (‘because you deserve it’) and honesty found their climax in last year’s London riots. If it had been possible to get a camera in front of one of these youths for long enough without them nicking it, then you’d probably have witnessed something similar to the sketch ‘Sherlock Homie’. This was close to the bone and all the better for it. Jack Stanely’s versatility became especially clear as he pedalled a lads language in which ‘friends’ are ‘bruvs’ and ‘things’, ‘tings’.

Simply the Jest really should be taken seriously at the Fringe. This more than just a well-rehearsed mash-up of ‘No Sex Please, We’re British’ and ‘Posh’. One sketch assembles a group with ‘pun issues’ arising from ‘over exposure to tabloid headlines’. Does my decision to have ‘hot cross puns’ for breakfast hinge on either ‘Nietzsche or Nurture’? This humour may be trivial, but it’s also fantastically subversive. The pun is that compact semantic vessel whose secondary meaning always threatens to come prematurely. Simply the Jest’s humour is perfectly attuned to those fines lines between dark and light humour, between, say, the horror of rape and the amusing impropriety of sex.


Jenni Reid

at 11:01 on 20th Aug 2012



Upon seeing the theme of this hour of sketch comedy, I admit I sighed a little inside, thinking of all the jokes and comedians mocking middle/upper class quirks I have seen a thousand times. However ‘Simply the Jest’ managed to blow any preconceptions I had out of the water almost straight away – only almost because I wasn’t the biggest fan of their opening song which didn’t strike me as very original, but this was a minor complaint since the rest of the show was simply hilarious.

It is near impossible to pick either a stand-out sketch or performer since all were of such a high standard, an impressive feat considering that there was a good deal of content and no fewer than nine actors all playing prominent roles. Whilst this might have lacked the sense of continuity and building of a relationship gained from a smaller cast, it instead just kept everything fresh and diverse. It was still easy to get to know each of the comedians because every one was so distinctive and talented. Their vocal and physical ranges were extremely impressive, with every accent spot on and every characterisation pitched just right to get the most impact out of their cleverly written material. A wide variety of comedy tastes were catered for in this show, whether it was puns at the ‘Hot Cross Pun Helpline’, physical humour in the ‘Synchronised Equestrian Gymnastics’ demonstration, or downright silliness from Jedi Knight evangelists going door-to-door recruiting.

The show managed to be adult and at times somewhat controversial (an allusion to priestly paedophilia here, a recording of the Princess Diana death scene there) but never for the sake of anything but the humour, as opposed to trying to seem shocking or edgy for no real reason. Topical references were also very well done, with ‘Maids in Chelsea’ and ‘Sherlock Homie’ both brilliant in their own ways. Music and a backing screen were seamlessly integrated into the production, and added a level of professionalism to the proceedings. All in all, ‘Simply the Jest’ have put together a show which is slick, showcases the talent of its performers, but most importantly is very, very funny.


Audience Avg.

0 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a