You always expect that a few sketches in every sketch show will be duds. No sketch show’s perfect, and as long as most sketches in a show are good, the audience can live with the one or two sketches that aren’t. But what if you’re The Moth Effect and your show only has three sketches? Will the audience stick around if one or two of those three sketches are duds? We’re about to find out…
The Moth Effect opened with a sketch imagining that a Ben & Jerry’s-type company – restyled as Jen & Berry’s for the purposes of the show – had decided to take a stand on an issue. (Ben & Jerry’s were presumably chosen because of their recent announcement that they would stop selling their ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territory.)
So, we see the executive team of Jen & Berry’s brainstorming issues they could take a stand on, then coming up with ways to incorporate their new stance into their products. The team settle on the military-industrial complex as the issue, then come up with new ice cream flavours on that theme. Most of the comedy here is in the names of the new flavours, many of which are only fleetingly visible on a whiteboard.
Later, we see the logical conclusion of this in a series of ads for Jen & Berry’s. In one, a senior American official eats a spoonful of Ben & Jerry’s Disarma-Mint and decides to stop all wars and disband the military. In another, we see a distraught Muslim man, whose family have been killed by (we presume) the Americans, being placated with a tub of PTS-De Leche-flavoured ice cream.
To be honest, we could have done without that last one (what even was the satirical point there?), and, in fact, with most of this rather long sketch. Big companies awkwardly trying to care about issues is a good target for comedy, but the small number of laughs we got from the ice cream flavours, some of which were pretty gratuitous in their lack of sensitivity, didn’t really justify it.
So, what came next on The Moth Effect? Hitler and incest, of course. Or to be precise, a trailer for a TV show about a guy who invents a time machine, goes back in history to kill Hitler and prevent the Holocaust and World War II, but finds he can only succeed in doing that if he has sex with his mum and becomes his own father.
Again, there are one or two laughs here, mainly from the endless repetition of the key points about this TV show – Hitler and incest – but that’s kind of it. Apart from that bitter taste of Hitler and incest that the whole sketch leaves in your mouth.
In the final sketch, and The Moth Effect really should have led with this one because it’s the only decent sketch in the episode, we see a news report about rival gangs making life difficult for the ordinary residents of a town in England. The fights between the gangs, who aren’t the sort of gangs you might expect to find in such a town, are funny, the residents interviewed by the reporter are funny (and amusingly captioned), and there’s a variety of English accents and stereotypes to enjoy. What more could you want?
Well, more sketches like that, to be honest. The strength of The Moth Effect, judging by what we’re seen so far, is high concept, funny ideas rather than satire or gross-out humour. So, maybe more creativity and less falling back on cheap incest gags?