Review: CowsDrinkMilk

LAURA GILBERT 31 October 2013

It was surely a case of unfortunate timing that CowsDrinkMilk was given a slot the week after Spleen: the proximity of two sketch shows invited comparison and this worked in Spleen’s favour.

There was one good point the two shows shared in common, and that was the presence of Tom Fraser in the cast. In terms of comedy, the man can do no wrong: he just seems to be inherently funny, and I feel like I could be amused at watching him stand on a blank stage for an hour. Essentially, well done Fraser. Keep it up.

That aside, the material for this ADC late-show lacks the originality of its Corpus predecessor. I think the writers were going for ‘wacky’, but too often they relied on tired tropes of punning, the ‘twist’ at the end or shock humour – and let it be stated drugs do not necessarily make a skit funny. Many of the sketches were just misses.

On occasion, it felt that the audience was being patronised: implied jokes were spelled out and repeated on occasion (we can understand a house is evil, for example, without a character continually citing its evilness.) The show did have its moments, and flashes of potential (top tip: watch out for that oven), but often scenes continue for too long, diluting what could have been a snappy joke.

To give the piece its due, with the exception of some corpsing (perhaps forgivable, given this was committed in Fraser’s presence), the show was rehearsed and polished; the stage gloriously managed by Kayla Marks; costumes well designed by Helena Blair (who, coincidentally, has a rather fabulous cameo in the show).

The production values, in short, were high, which is important in a sketch show. But such values can only go so far. Pete Skidmore and Ollie Marsh are experimenting with their comedy in front of an audience, as they should do, and I would encourage them to keep experimenting, be more ruthless with themselves – more willing to cut, experiment, trust in their audience and nuance ideas. CowsDrinkMilk is a name that suggests powerful branding. The writers now need to decide what this brand is about.