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Review by Linda Wigmore

Rob MacDonald’s in it. That should be enough of a review to get people out to The Guild to see Sketch 22 this summer. Yes, MacDonald is that funny. But there are other reasons that make season five the one to see. This is my favourite show yet, I’ve seen it twice and I’m going for a third time.

Sketch 22 is a mix of live comedy sketches and previously filmed footage shown on the big screen in between the live sequences. The whole thing moves along at a great clip and the end came too soon for my liking, even though the show runs over two hours, including intermission. There are no repeat sketches from previous years, this is all fresh and new.

There is one new cast member, Lennie MacPherson, replacing Harmony Wagner. It was sad seeing Wagner leave, but MacPherson is a great replacement. Rounding out the cast are Graham Putnam (arguably the second funniest man on PEI, if he is to be believed), Dennis Trainor, (by now a grizzled old character actor) and perpetual straight man Andrew Sprague.

Now, I cringed when I heard about Anne 2008, the initiative to bring on even more mass media hysteria over the red-headed monster, but Sketch 22 gives Anne a whole new look and feel, most notably in “Trans Anne.” There is some “local” humour here, not as much as in previous seasons, but you probably don’t need to get the references to get the jokes. And there is much universal humour here. My favourite sketch, starring Rob MacDonald and Graham Putnam, “Pavlov’s audience,” had people laughing until they cried, gasping for air. And in “Oldies he says” the cast managed to get honest to god tears out of people.

Due to the fast-paced nature of the show, the sets are minimal, but the production values are upped greatly for the video footage, and I believe these could be pieced together to make a TV show better than most of the sketch comedy shows now on the air. There’s less shock humour here than in previous shows, and while I have nothing against shock humour, I feel that it’s a sad day when the shock is replacing the funny. The cast and writers have done well to combine the shock and the funny this year, especially in “Special Needs” and “Joey’s Birthday Blowout.” Oh you will be shocked, but you will laugh as well.

So what are you waiting for? Go on and get those tickets booked. They’ve been playing to packed houses, and you’ll want to get a good seat. Did I mention Rob MacDonald’s in it?

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