Foil, Arms & Hog

Foil, Arms & Hog

Dublin-based sketch troupe comprising Sean Finegan (Foil), Conor Mc Kenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog)
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Foil, Arms and Hog: Late Night Sketch Comedy

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

What a difference a year makes!

Twelve months ago, Foil, Arms and Hog produced a patchy, unremarkable hour that one incredibly wise critic said was far from the breakthrough they would have hoped for.  But now that moment has come, with a  humdinger of a show that emphatically proves this playful Irish trio are a powerhouse of sketch comedy.

From the excellent Church-based call-and-response intro that perfectly warms up the audience to the ribald, Knockabout finale of audience participation – tonight pursued with particular vigour by the chosen punter –  this is an effervescent hour of fast-paced gags, fizzing with energy, invention and great lines.

There are some real gems of sketches here. The chairheads are an easy favourite, mixing daft puns with racism allegories; a skit on supermarket equal opportunities programmes is delightfully creepy; and a would-be rude boi taking part in a smalltown talent competition is a heady mix of The League Of Gentlemen and Father Ted.

A brisk three-in-one sketch suggests they might be able pull off a long-form show worthy of those inspirations, without the ever-present cymbal whose crash denotes an end of scene. Flicking quickly between Irish mammies,  the damned in hell, and a tense driving lesson, the apparently separate stories neatly reveal how they interlock, after independently mining the laughs of each situation.

To be fair there are a couple of weaker moments: the football manager unleashing an Alex Ferguson-style hairdryer of a dressing down didn’t quite work, and mocking bad improv is a bit too easy and in-jokey, even if they hit the nail on the head.

But such scenes are nonetheless breezed over, for  Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan are vibrant, skilful performers, filling the show with life, even at a relatively late hour, and able to inhabit anything from a predatory pervert to a sex doll in a heartbeat.

They are sometimes a bit too shouty, but it comes out of high spirits, rather than intimidation, and loose enough to encourage mischievous audience interaction without sliding into self-indulgence. This combined with purposeful direction and keen gags ensure this is an hilarious, feelgood hour worth staying up for.

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Published: 15 Aug 2012

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