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Vinegar Knickers: On The Edge
Published on Friday, 17 August 2012
2

2 stars

Just the Tonic at The Caves (venue website)
Comedy
2-13, 15, 18-26 Aug, 2:40pm-3:40pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Vinegar Knickers are a three-woman lineup – Katie, Harriet and Sam – who together comprise a comedy sketch group, presumably named after the character in Prisoner Cell Block H.  With a stage set meant to resemble a crack den (but instead it has turned out to be a launderette, for various confusing reasons), they purport to specialise in edgy material.  At times, it seems their quest for ‘edginess’ is played for laughs alone, without much else backing it up.

Edgy topics covered by Vinegar Knickers include romances with Hitler, conjoined twins and cat faeces. But the problem here is that they remained just that: topics. It’s not a comedy sketch if you just say, hey, here we are being a pair of conjoined twins who are having their first conjoined period. Or here I am playing my own Jewish grandmother having an affair with Hitler. Edgy comedy needs, well, comedy.

The continual multi-layered stuff (all sketch groups now have to break out of their sketches and talk about the fact they are a sketch group: it’s the law) where the threesome mock their own quests for edginess grates too. It is as if they want to do the cheap shock sketches, but still mock the idea of cheap shock sketches, and neither strand is really very funny.

Vinegar Knickers’ strongest sketch was about a nineteenth-century version of Facebook based on home crafts. It’s a sly, slow-burn piece that is awfully well done (although the central idea isn’t all that original): but it’s telling that this highlight was probably the least ‘edgy’ of the groups set of sketches.

It all makes me think that Vinegar Knickers’ collective heart isn’t really in the dark comedy thing. And the only way to make that sort of comedy work is to fully commit to it; if it’s just a gimmick, it shows. The best edgy comics are edgy because that is the best way of saying what they want to say. So, are taboo topics the best way for Vinegar Knickers to say what they want to say? Maybe they need to, first, work out what that is.

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