The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show | TV review by Steve Bennett
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The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show

TV review by Steve Bennett

With five stand-up specials already available on Netflix, American comic Iliza Shlesinger has branched into sketch – but it doesn’t feel she’s found a distinctive voice that’s so important for the genre.

The opening 20-minute episode pinballs between skits that mock gender stereotypes, those that are manically absurd, and leaden parodies that don’t know when to stop. You could argue that such a hodgepodge keeps things unpredictable, but the inconsistency of the writing, with too many half-developed ideas, is ultimately a turn-off.

She starts strong with Female Jackass spoof, in which her character’s reckless stunts inflict emotional pain on herself, rather than the physical pain that Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Co would endure for our entertainment. She is on similar turf with Husband Wife, in which she plays a bride who quickly adopts all the unappealing traits of a ‘bro’ – farting, pranking and slobbing out on the sofa – that some men find comfortable company. To drive the stereotypes home, Ripped Fat Dudes mocks guys who love gyms… but also beer and pizza.

These are all pretty well-observed sketches with a point, but then Shlesinger swerves into the weird. The comic and her supporting cast clearly had fun sloppily chowing down on juicy nectarines in the business meeting sketch. Relying entirely on excess for its comedy, it’s definitely a love-it-or-loathe-it scene.

But it’s harder still to embrace a couple of the other, longer, sketches. An observation that some people sing tunelessly and absent-mindedly to their dogs becomes a full-blown Star Is Born parody, which quickly feels tired as it adds little to the initial premise. And a long-winded skit set on a budget airline is that worst kind of surreal, based only on a blizzard of non-sequiturs that only serves to baffle.

The lasting impression of this show – made by British production house Avalon – is of an undercooked brain dump, with Shlesinger’s stream of manic ideas needing more editing and focus, even if some of the individual scenes – normally those with one foot in reality – offer laughs and a wry social comment.

• Six episodes of The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show were released on Netflix yesterday. Watch here.

Review date: 3 Apr 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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