It seems as though for as long as television has been around, there have been sketch comedy shows on it. Some seem to last forever, while others are nothing more than a flash in the pan. Some sketch comedy is clever and laugh-out-loud funny, while some just sort of sits there. And then, somewhere in between all that is the new sketch comedy show from England, recently released to DVD, manstrokewoman.
Created by Ash Atalla (The Office, UK version) the series stars Nick Frost, Nicholas Burns, Daisy Haggard, Amanda Abbington, Ben Crompton, and Meredith McNeill, and each, always, plays some sort of neurotic 30-something weirdo. The actors are all able, and there are moments when these neuroses and the way they are portrayed are funny, but more often than not the concept behind the sketch tends to fall flat.
As an example, there is a recurring sketch where a man who has been dumped by his girlfriend tries to talk to her but always breaks down into hysterics. The woman then attempts to interpret what the man is saying in his sobs. She is virtually never successful, and the man becomes more and more distraught. That is it. That is the entire sketch. The first time around it is funny. Not belly laugh funny, but somewhat amusing, and certainly more amusing than the recurring sketch where a father constantly loses his son. But, the fact that there are second, third, fourth, and umpteenth instances of this exact same sketch being played out throughout the series make it, quickly, less than funny. The sketch is short every time, but being that there is little depth to it, that is merciful.
In fact, all the sketches are quite short and have very little depth to them. Rather, they are all quick little observations about our society - very short setups before the punchline.