Pickups and Hiccups with Benjamin and Meyers
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2001
This show has not yet got a description.
This tightly structured sketch show gives ample opportunity for the Boom Chicago improvisers to showcase their talents - but it also dramatically illustrates their limits.
That's not to say this examination of romance and relationships isn't without its laughs, but all too often they come from the audience rather than the stage.
For it's the inventiveness of the suggestions that provides the comedy, such as the attempts to wrong-foot the Americans with peculiarly British references like Paul Daniels.
Similarly, a surreal flight of fancy is made up entirely of twists shouted out by the audience, so where's the talent in that?
And this duo do ask a lot of their audience, asking one hapless punter who had been picked out to help supply lines to come up with an entire romantic poem off the top of his head. Not just a first line, or a theme, the whole damn poem. Of course, he struggled, which might suggest this improv isn't as easy as it seems - but then he didn't have the rigid structure (or the forewarning) to help him.
Too often laughs come from merely repeating back the suggestion - even though the partially scripted sketches left an obvious gap for their insertion.
Such simple recognition seems a particularly cheap route to a reaction.
And the sketch structure made it easier to improvise around the feedback, giving the performers guidelines that, say, a comedy club compere wouldn't have when similarly chatting to punters.
This may seem a little over-analytical, for what, after all, was an enjoyable show. But then, if it was really that hilarious, I'd have been too busy laughing to care about the mechanics. And it wasn't that funny.