Throughout lockdown, stand-up comedian Paul Holliday posted some of his character sketches online. So it was an obvious move for the Scouser to produce a self-penned, part-devised sketch show as his next step.
Holliday is an immensely likeable character with a warm stage demeanour and a hard-to-resist range of facial expressions. Playing a heightened version of himself at a therapy session, the show delves into Holliday’s neurotic mind and pulls out a string of quick-fire sketches. Over an hour, he covers a range of topics, including living back at home with his mother, his impending 30th birthday, and the Doomsday clock. He even throws in a few ‘adverts’ here and there.
Like all sketch shows, it’s a hit and miss affair with a 50 per cent success rate, which, for a first outing, is a pretty decent result. The pick of the bunch centres around a relaxation tape which taps into Holliday’s endless ability to be joyfully silly. Other winners include a PR type trying to boost the number of followers Jesus has on Instagram, a cutting skit on applying for minimum wage jobs, and a first day as an usher in the middle of medieval war. Notably absent, however, are most of the characters he delivers online, which would have been a welcome addition.
A trio of actors help to keep Holliday on track, notably Kane D Allen, but it sometimes felt like they were there more for moral support rather than to bolster the sketches. Where Holliday shines is being able to make an immediate connection with his audience. He doesn’t really need an ensemble and sometimes you just wanted more direct pieces from the man himself. Perhaps the safety in numbers approach was the result of a lack of confidence to go it alone for this debut. But the best moments were definitely his solo flights of fancy.
At times, the show felt a little all over the place and unformed. As a result, it lacked pace, which may have been fuelled by the nervousness of the cast when a sketch wasn’t getting the laughs they expected. Certainly, director Alexi Papadopoulos should have done some judicious trimming with the scripts, particularly one where Holliday attempts to perform two of the weaker skits simultaneously.
However, Holliday didn’t outstay his welcome and even began to hoover the space before the end to ensure a quick get out. All in all, a promising start.
To read our interview with Paul Holliday, click here.