The Moth Effect
Nick Boshier and Jazz Twemlow's new sketch comedy takes a bite and likes what it tastes.
It’s not easy to write a review of a sketch comedy without giving away some of the gags, but it’s even harder to create and produce one, which is what Nick Boshier and Jazz Twemlow have done for Amazon Prime Video.
The Moth Effect is described as a sketch show that goes above the news cycle, condensing current meaty issues, zeitgeisty vibes, and cultural catastrophes. This sees the 6 x 18 min series take on a range of social topics and media targets, with an ensemble cast peppered with some impressive guests.
Episode 1 opens mockumentary-style with Kate Box as the boss of Jen & Berry’s Ice Cream on a mission to put her products behind a worthy social cause – but all the good ones are taken. A company brainstorming session comes up with military-themed flavours, Agent Orange Sorbet, Hiroshimarshellow and – oh wait, I’m doing it already.
A trailer for 80s TV series Time Knight finds Boshier as a kind of time-travelling Knight Rider, heading back through a vortex to change the course of his own history… and later drowning his sorrows in a pub.
There’s also a news report on ‘gangs of philosophers’ roaming the streets of the UK, robbing people of certainty and encountering rival gangs.
In episode 2 a news report reveals a giant, angry David Attenborough is crushing cities for celebrating his documentaries, while ignoring his environmental messages. With guest Brooke Boney as reporter, we are warned to “Forget David, he is all Goliath.”
Then there’s a QAnon makeover, Queer Eye-style with guest Bryan Brown given camp lessons in extreme activism. It’s followed by a “Daddy” anthem with Boshier as the ‘perfect’ house husband and an existentialist medieval battle.
So is it funny? In parts, yes. The observation on Attenborough being celebrated but ignored was clever, and the Queer Eye QAnon an even more creative fusion. Boshier and Twemlow get to show off a range of comic styles from a plentiful bag of tricks. Production design and costumes hold up well, it doesn’t look like it has skimped on the budget.
Some sketches are at risk of outstaying their welcome and several are revisited two or three times in the one episode when I would have welcomed more variety. The tone is biting, but could be more outrageous given we’re on a streaming platform and not Free to Air.
The series will allow familiar faces to flex their funny bone including Vincent D’Onofrio, David Wenham, Jack Thompson, Miranda Otto, Ben Lawson, Peter O’Brien, Miranda Tapsell, Mark Humphries, Nazeem Hussain and more.
Comedy, and a comedic voice, takes time to develop. There’s encouraging signs here if Amazon Prime is prepared to stick with it.
The Moth Effect plays weekly from Friday July 30 on Amazon Prime Video.