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Maff Brown: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Alex Mason

Maff Brown looks like an unlikely frontman for a sketch troupe, which suits an hour that's unlike any normal sketch show. He starts by individually introducing his fellow performers, which seems unnecessary until you realise the show is more about them than the sketches.

Taken at face value, these scenes are almost universally terrible. If you think you've heard bad gags before prepare to have your world rocked. There's recurring bad puns, sketches that the cast seemingly give up on, and even one that ends with an apology. The troupe are under no illusion how corny most of it is, they just see it as a positive and it sort-of works.

There's a clever use of a projector screen (used to title sketches and set the scene) which shields as a back stage area for costume changes. However, there are no real props and the production quality gives the feel of a school talent show.

Brown is far funnier than his own show, with his comments through the fourth wall  gaining more laughs than the content. Most of the big laughs come from things happening outside of the confines of the sketch, such as an explanation as to why the sketch isn't racist or Brown convincing the crowd their groans are really claps.

The skits fly past at a dizzying pace, and while the asides make up for a lot of the horror, some of the longer ones are unsalvageable. A meta-sketch involving two of the troupe being accidentally married on stage induced groans so loud you'd think the entire audience were simultaneously stricken with food poisoning.

This is the sketch equivalent of a hot curry, depending on your tolerance for shockingly bad wordplay and corny sketches it could be hilarious or it could be heinous. At one point Brown addresses the crowd with disbelief anyone could even pay for this, and a discerning audience is likely to agree.

It's good in the same way Plan 9 From Outer Space is good, with a cult following a certainty, but mainstream success an impossibility. It's definitely an experience, it's just debatable what kind.

Review date: 25 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Alex Mason
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon

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