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Vintage: Hedge Sketch

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry do “the hedge sketch”.

This is a simple yet brilliant sketch. The whole performance works when they get the first act wrong and start again. It breaks the fourth wall and the audience are in on it. As the sketch progresses the panic and pace builds a long with the hilarity.

If you are a fan of comedy and are thinking or pursuing a career or even of joining a comedy group a good idea is to practice by re-enacting some classic sketches like this. See the script below and give it a go.

The scene: a shop counter
H: Hello. I’d like to buy a hedge, please.
S: Good morning, sir. Can I help you?
H: Well, what sorts have you got?
S: A hedge! Well, we have three sorts, sir.
(realises something’s wrong)
What sort of hedge would you like?
H: Could I have a look at the Imperial, please?
S: We have the Royal, the Imperial and the Standard hedge.
H: (very worried) No – it’s a present.
S: (equally worried) Certainly, sir. May I ask is the hedge for you?
H: Erm – I’m not married.
S: Ah! For your wife perhaps?
H: Not at all – I’m in no hurry.
S: Well, if you wouldn’t mind waiting I’ll just ring down…
start again, start again…
S: Good morning, sir. How may I help you?
H: Well, I’d like to buy a hedge, please.
S: A hedge! Certainly, sir. What sort would you like?
H: Well, we have three sorts – the Royal, the Imperial or the Standard.
(starts to look worried again)
S: Erm – could I have a look at the Imperial, please?
H: Certainly, sir. May I ask is the hedge for you?
S: No – it’s a present.
H: Ah! For your wife perhaps?
S: I’m not married.
H: Right – well I’ll just ring down to the stockroom if you wouldn’t mind waiting.
S: Not at all – I’m in no hurry.
(exhange places behind counter)
H: (sotto voce) There’s no phone.
S: (sotto voce) Down under the counter.
H: (sotto voce) Ah! Right! (normally) Hello – stockroom? Have we got any Imperial hedges left?
S: (out of side of mouth) I’ll just have a look, sir.
H: (in phone) Oh thanks. (to S) He’s just having a look.
S: (out of side of mouth) We’ve got one left.
H: Right! I’ll take it then.
(they realise that something has gone wrong again and swap places)
S: Ah! You’re in luck, sir. The stockroom tells me we’ve got just one
Imperial left.
H: Cash, if you don’t mind.
S: Certainly, sir. How would you like to pay?
(decide to start all over again)
(the following all done at breakneck speed with very little feeling and
with each others lines often overlapping)
S: Good morning, sir. Can I help you?
H: I’d like to buy a hedge, please.
S: A hedge! Well, we have three sorts, sir.
What sort of hedge would you like?
H: Well, what sorts have you got?
S: We have the Royal, the Imperial and the Standard hedge.
H: Could I have a look at the Imperial, please?
S: Certainly, sir. May I ask is the hedge for you?
H: No – it’s a present.
S: For your wife perhaps?
H: I’m not married.
S: I’ll just ring down to the stockroom if you wouldn’t mind waiting.
H: Not at all – I’m in no hurry.
S: (forgets to pick up phone) Hello – stockroom? Have we got any Imperial hedges left?
H: (sotto voce) Pick up the phone, pick up the phone.
S: (picks up phone; in phone) Oh thanks. (to S) He’s just having a look. We’ve got one left.
H: Right! I’ll take it then.
S: Certainly, sir. How would you like to pay?
H: Cash, if you don’t mind.
S: Cash will be perfectly convenient, sir.
(everything grinds to a halt; a few seconds of embarrassed silence;
lights fade)

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