Jake Massey

Jesterval review: The Suggestibles

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Tonight at Jesterval, local favourites The Suggestibles are our headline act.

Unlike the vast majority of shows at the festival, the audience is integral to tonight’s performance, and the improvised comedy troupe make this clear from the outset, as figurehead Ian McLaughlin explains the unscripted nature of their set before requesting suggestions for their first skit.

Through a combination of musical shifts by Alex Ross on keyboard and audience suggestions, we are immediately exposed to the impressive talents of the troupe, who exhibit a remarkable quick-wittedness as they seamlessly adapt to the ever-changing scenarios thrust upon them.

Those who have watched Whose Line Is It Anyway? will be familiar with the format of the show, which manages to retain a coherent structure, despite the unprepared nature of the content, by working through an array of games, designed to challenge the performers’ sharpness and malleability.

Indeed, those who have watched Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but assume this local offering are bound to constitute an inferior product, should reconsider.

Just as musicians may tire of playing the same old hits, stand-up comics can become fed up of telling their greatest bits, and their performance can suffer as a consequence.

The Suggestibles, on the other hand, clearly relish the pressure and excitement of the unknown, and this lends their performance a rarely emulated vitality, which is hard not to admire and enjoy.

This is best demonstrated in the gameplay scenarios which encourage competition rather than cooperation, as the performers attempt to manoeuvre curveballs thrown by their peers, much to the amusement of tonight’s audience.

Very occasionally a particular suggestion or scenario may not quite ‘work’, with performers on different brainwaves, but the act have ten years’ experience and are quick to move on via musical interlude.

Invariably, the performance resembles telepathy, with personas and plots forged instantaneously.

Certain routines stemming from predictable suggestions such as ‘Shakespeare’ afford the comics a degree of respite, as they offer amusing recreations in which they are presumably well-versed.

However, they are if anything more potently funny when swimming new waters, with tonight’s ‘Scouse Vampire’ a real highlight.

Whether they’re trying their hand at witty word play, physical, musical or character comedy, The Suggestibles are consistently great value.

I strongly suggest you see for yourself.

Date of live review: Thursday 12 June @ Baltic Square, Gateshead Quays