Smart Casual: Same Mother, Different Fathers

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

As an antipodean guitar-based double act who specialise in lo-fi numbers with downbeat, naturalistic lyrics, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons between Smart Casual and Flight Of The Conchords.

But while Fletcher Jones and Roger David do occasionally slip into tribute band territory, over the course of their well-constructed show they prove themselves worthy of interest in their own right, thanks to a healthy share of wryly clever jokes.

The intriguing set-up here is that they are half-brothers, demonstrating more than a hint of sibling rivalry, who believe their separate fathers died early, and in the unlikeliest of circumstances. But a tape sent to them by their shared mother reveals that she had lied to them, and that their long-lost dads would be coming to tonight’s show for an emotional reunion. What a tear-jerker.

While we wait for that poignant payoff, Fletcher – sporting a feral beard Zach Galifianakis would be proud of – and Roger – on guitar and hidden behind opaque sunglasses – will entertain us with their musical compositions and subdued banter, set to the soporific strumming of the six-string.

Their musical set list is a mix of welcomingly abrupt tracks just long enough to convey the gag, tweely surreal songs such as Why Is There A Polar Bear At My Party? and paeans to activities too long ignored by songwriters, such as the game of snap or blowing up a balloon – both of which numbers come with delightful and funny twists.

The pair have an appealing, underplayed stage presence and awkward tension which director Heath Franklin (best known as the larger-than-life comedy gangster Chopper) has channelled very effectively. Moments of utter silliness, such as their seagull song or re-enacting an old minstrel-era dance, are made all the funnier by their po-faced performances.

Just two years after making the final of the Raw new act competition, this duo still exhibit some unevenness in their act, including those lapses into Conchords’ territory, but their potential is immense, and there’s much to enjoy in this rich, funny hour of whimsical musical comedy.

Review date: 17 Apr 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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