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Milo McCabe: Get Brown

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Seems like every comic’s got a chat show this Fringe; but Milo McCabe has given it the obvious twist for a character comedian – and become all the guests rather than the host.

There’s a lot of attention gone into giving Get Brown the genuine feel of a TV production. Will Sentence, who really works on the Jeremy Kyle Show, is called in to stage manage proceedings, while comic Maff Brown is our host, bringing the perfect blend of jolly but vapid to the role of a daytime anchor.

Warm-up guy is Philberto, the Portuguese comedian character McCabe’s long been performing on the comedy circuit – and who’s treated as poorly here as any genuine warm-up, never allowed to finish his jokes. But his crowd work is strong, surely honed over all those rowdy club nights, and he engenders a playful spirit in the room.

Brown’s first guest is Tyson Moon, the son of a Seventies Irish comedy legend now taking his dad’s act on the road. It goes unstated, but there’s an autobiographical connection here, as McCabe’s father Mike is an old-school Irish comic, who once won the New Faces TV talent hunt.

Unlike McCabe, who confidently inhabits all his creations, Moon is a nerdy, social misfit in ill-fitting plaid jacket who seems to sit somewhere on the autistic spectrum. He mangles the old gags, demonstrates the new-fangled surreal comedy that he hates – and hasn’t an internal censor to steer him clear of his father’s more racist material. It’s either a silly way of exploring how comedy has evolved, or the chance to spurn political correctness behind the mask of a character, depending on how you look at it – but the result is unmistakably funny.

And kudos to McCabe for genuinely taking Moon to the Comedy Store to face the bearpit of the King Gong with this dodgy, dated material.

Second up is Anthony Sixsmith, a ‘healing drummer’ or ‘bongo therapist’, curing bogus ailments of one carefully-selected audience member with the power of his beats. Mocking New Age mumbo-jumbo is a bit old hat, and this camp Scouser is probably the least interesting of the creations on display here, but still McCabe performs him with commitment and a wry sense of humour.

Finally, Aussie rules footballer turned art critic Nobbo Johnson, plugging his cultural TV show Mullet Musings. He has some fun with the clash of high art and low culture – it doesn’t take much to imagine how his no-nonsense coarseness addresses the topic of artistic symbolism, for example, but McCabe puts another nice twist on the idea.

All his characters interact with the audience, either directly or indirectly, meaning his show has an engaging energy beyond the straight presentation of one creation after the next. That they also interact with each oother, in some limited way, is an extra element while the supporting characters, Sentence especially, allow for some running jokes which gives this character collection a winning flourish.

Review date: 14 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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