Skit Box, the team behind Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am, which you may remember from Fresh Blood a few years ago, are back with a new YouTube series. Partly based on the lead-up to the success of their 2015 viral hit ACTIVEWEAR (we assume) it follows the Skit Box trio – Adele Vuko, Greta Lee Jackson and Sarah Bishop – as they try to make it in showbiz and then have a surprise viral hit with a song about active wear.
So, we see Vuko working as a junior assistant at a production company, Jackson doing cleaning and bar work at a comedy club and Bishop trying to make it as an actor. All three are having a hard time and getting nowhere, and all three are being bullied, gaslighted and generally messed around by sexist male superiors.
There are a few good gags to be had at the expense of the sexist male superiors, such as when Vuko’s demanding, coke-sniffing prick of a boss is seen holding a mug with UNT on it in such a way as to make the handle look like a C. But mostly, this is about how awful the trio are having it.
Jackson’s boss, the MC of the comedy club (played by Greg Larsen) actively puts her off appearing on stage, then immediately performs a joke she improvises, passing it off as his own. Awful and relatable, but not exactly funny.
Similarly, when Bishop auditions for an ad playing a mum who runs her own small business, the director (Matt Okine) asks her to perform her lines with her top off and twerking, then doesn’t watch her performance as she does it. Again, something any woman with a career can relate to, but not even bitterly funny. Just awful.
And that’s the main problem here: the intent seems to be to have a laugh (and get some revenge on) the awful men who’ve made a career in showbiz difficult for the trio, but they don’t seem to be able to write about them in a way which enables the audience to laugh. As an audience, we just feel sorry for three of them. Which is the correct emotion for this situation, for sure, but also a failure in terms of the trio making us laugh.
If you’re after laughs in this series – and we certainly were – they’re mostly to be found in the asides and cutaways and in the quirks of the main characters (such as Jackson always sliding drinks along tables or bars with disastrous consequences). But if you were hoping for some laugh out loud feminist comedy…maybe try elsewhere.