All credit to Karen Taylor for spotting an opportunity and trying to grab it. Following the success of Catherine Tate, this is a particularly good time for a comic actress to make the jump from an ensemble sketch show (she was in ITV1’s better-than-you’d-expect ‘The Sketch Show’) to her own sketch show. Fortunately Taylor’s style is very different to Tate’s – she comes from a stand-up background, and she’s far less character-based – so this is far from a Xerox of Tate’s show. And it’s a style that could carry a really good sketch show. But not this one.
It’s a cliché of reviews of new sketch shows to say that they’re hit and miss. After a few decades, I think we can confidently state that this is just the nature of sketch writing. Truth be told, ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, though filled with genius, was hit and miss: it just got more hits than misses. So, now that we’ve set the bar stupidly high, let’s look at ‘Touch Me’.
There is some good material in here: some of the short ‘about my life’ sketches are neat, the ‘Cash Cow’ sketches about an impossible phone-in quiz are good, and the inappropriate undertaker may not be original but Taylor plays her extremely well. Unfortunately, lots of these sketches just take route one and head for the most obvious gag. The sequences of Taylor as a rubbish cheerleader don’t contain any good jokes at all, for instance, and are crying out for a surprising twist. Several sketches fall back on cheap sex/toilet humour: too much of it is just unmemorable, and you’re left recalling blank patches where you didn’t laugh.
It’s a shame to have to write this, because new sketch shows are always greeted with a disproportionate level of scepticism. But this one really isn’t good enough to make an effort for.