Your pick of the Fringe funnies.
The sketch show is still very much alive
IS the sketch show dying? It’s a topic that crops up regularly in comedy circles but recently, acts like Pappy’s, Wittank and Totally Tom have proved there’s still life in the genre, with inventive skits and original characters. So how are some of their contemporaries faring this year?
Downscaling to a two-hander, The Pin (Pleasance Courtyard, 6.15pm, until August 26, * * *) have gone down the meta-comedy route, with the interplay between self-important Alex and simpleton Ben acting as the framing device. Scenes such as the advert ‘starring’ Frank Lampard and a newly qualified spy’s tricky first assignment are solidly written and performed, while between them, the confusion over the concept of the rhetorical question is excellent.
The main gripe is that it’s neither one nor the other – not quite a sketch show, not really a character comedy. But there’s undoubted potential there, whichever line they choose to pursue.
Stop this mindless Casualness
Casual Violence (Pleasance Courtyard, 3.45pm, until August 25, * *) have opted for the narrative sketch format instead, telling the tale of
of Nostril, centred around the evil Roger’s attempts to indoctrinate wimpy son Charlie into the family ways. While the premise is neat,
the application is
less so. There’s an
absence of subtlety, relying instead on over-acting (and much shouting) for humour, which begins to grate. A funny ad-lib about a performer’s sweatiness gets one of the afternoon’s biggest laughs, but soon loses its spontaneous charm when the others keep breaking character to refer to it, eager to cash in on the joke. It’s also not entirely clear how the sub-plots link in. One, featuring pre-teen Cockney chimney sweeps (who tiresomely substitute ‘apples and pears’ for random words) falls flat, only tied in right at the end by a cursory mention in the main action, while another with Uncle Gideon and a goblin is amusingly disturbing, but lacks context.
Just one missing piece
Out of the three, Jigsaw (Pleasance Courtyard, 4.45pm, until August 26,* *) are closest to a traditional sketch-show. Even so, they still try to play with your perception: sometimes in character, other times themselves.
It’s probably better off being more straightforward as many of the ‘them’ sketches could be adapted. It’s not their finest Fringe moment, but their track record - and some good ideas here - suggest they can return to form next year.