Series: The Sketch Show

The Sketch Show is a British, well... sketch show which ran between 2001 and 2004. The five-person cast was composed of comedians Lee Mack, Tim Vine, Jim Tavaré, Karen Taylor, Ronni Ancona (for Series 1) and Kitty Flanagan (for series 2). With no overall plot, the show's episodes were composed entirely of short comedy sketches.

It spawned a short-lived American remake, starring Kelsey Grammer.


This show provides examples of:

  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: A sketch depicts a group of cavemen inventing fire. Once the fire is going, one of them immediately uses it to light a cigarette.
  • Hand Signals: One sketch has Lee as a sign language interpreter "helping" with the announcement of a new community centre, whose increasingly bizarre and distracting signals start getting on Ronni's nerves - specifically, he does chicken impersonations to represent different percentage, and he keeps accidentally slapping her when miming "big", "massive" and "far left of centre". Ronni ends up stumping him when she announces a special offer a the restaurant on opening night: 25% off half a chicken.
  • How Did That Get in There?: Parodied. A college professor is presenting a slideshow about bikinis, with pictures of women wearing them. He then advances to a picture of a building and, well, you know.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: Possible Trope Namer. The show had a brief sketch where a woman going through customs is assured that her tub of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" is okay to go through. The customs officer them pulls out a bag labelled "I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin." Beat. "I think that's all in order."
  • I Have This Friend: Parodied and subverted when a man tells his doctor that his friend is a woman trapped in a man's body - and that that woman has a man trapped in her's. The doctor asks if he's talking about himself. He denies it, saying that it's his flatmate. Further subverted when she asks him to bring his friend to see her. He then pulls out a Babushka doll and opens it up.
  • Imaginary Friend: A sketch took this to an over-the-top degree. The sketch concerned a psychiatrist running a group therapy session to persuade people that their imaginary friends weren't real; her patients were a guy who used his imaginary friend as a cover for alcoholism (the joke being that he walked into the meeting by mistake while looking for an AA meeting for his "friend"), a lonely and lovesick woman (whose imaginary friend had the same name as her last boyfriend), and a guy who thought he himself was the imaginary one. At the very end of the sketch, it turns out the psychiatrist was actually addressing an empty room.
  • Mustache Vandalism: In one of the sketches, Ronni introduces her boyfriend Lee to Karen by showing her a picture of him, which has a red mustache, red glasses and red hair doodled over it. Karen asks her why she did that, but it turns out that's what Lee really looks like.
  • Need a Hand, or a Handjob?: Discussed and invoked in a sketch where a man tries to sollicit the "assistance" of a streetwalker. His annoying obfuscation eventually causes the hooker to walk off.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: Many of the sketches are only a line or two long, just enough to deliver a pun or Sight Gag.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: Done repeatedly in one sketch with a support group for people with phobias. Lee had a fear of screaming, Jim had a fear of apologies, Karen had a fear of repetition and Ronni a fear of awkward silences.
  • Scrabble Babble: Lee's tactic is to include his made-up words in the conversation before his turn starts. First he does this with "quazoosl", referring to someone being so attractive that they come across as intimidating (the example he gives is Elizabeth Hurley). In a later sketch, he asks Tim if he wants a glass of "saxisquith". Tim replies, "Don't even think about it."
  • Stupid Crooks: A scene has a group of counterfeiters who realize it's costing them more than 12 pounds to produce a usable 10 pound note. After a few suggestions for rectifying this, they decide to just start circulating actual 10 pound notes.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • Ronni in the California Dreaming sketch, whose backup singers just don't understand the concept of repeating after her.
    • Kitty in the restaurant naming sketch - Lee wants to name it after himself, Tim keeps suggesting names that would be appropriate for foreign cuisine, Jim keeps suggesting names that are taken by famous franchises, and Karen keeps suggesting names that would be appropriate for completely different businesses.
  • Undisclosed Funds: A sketch played with this, which a woman discusses with a repairman his prices using onomatopoeia (whistles for high prices, "eh" for low prices, etc.) At the end of the sketch, the woman asks how much it would be if she helps install it, and he replies, "£50".
  • The Unintelligible:
    • One sketch has a Lee as a Motor Mouth Irish jockey being interviewed after a race. Ronni can't understand him and the best Lee can manage is to repeat sentence fragments (without actually slowing down) until she does.
    • One sketch has the five in a board meeting. Kitty keeps taking drunken rambling from Lee as helpful suggestions, mystifying the others. Eventually Karen and Tim decide to just imitate his rambling, which works, but when Jim tries it, Kitty tells him to go home because he's pissed.