Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
Following last year's success of Death by Sketches, the infamous Noel James and Steve Best achieve obscurity again with a new show featuring sharp, satirical nuggets, such as Iraqnaphobia, Norman's an Island, Crab Flamenco, to name butter... fluid surrealjism.
Between them, Noel James and Steve Best have a wealth of comedy experience and decent track records. So how, then, have they managed to produce one of the most shambolic, amateurish sketch shows on the Fringe?
The pair desperately mug their way through their painfully strained material like a couple of keen but incompetent students attempting comedy for the first, and probably last, time. They throw themselves into it with gusto, but there's just not enough funny to make it worthwhile.
Many of the sketches rely on fast-paced backchat with unfeasible comic misunderstandings and appalling puns piling into each other like carriages in a train wreck.
There are some redeeming features. Sporadic great gags lie amid the carnage, but they're pretty hard to spot - the brilliant jokes aren't given room to breathe but buried under a torrent of rubbish, while somewhere else a pun that's not even bad enough to be a groaner will be given the hard sell. It's incredibly frustrating to watch.
The duo, occasionally joined by their techie, seem to be having much more fun than their audience. Unfortunately, it isn't catching. And once they realise this, things get even more desperate as they try even harder to inject some life into the situation.
They're likeable lads, but need to apply a lot more discipline to get the most out of their limited amount of decent material.
Noel James - 28/08/2003
The group responsible for Skitzaphrantic - the name of which the reviewer did not mention - is: The Hix Roobinstein. Thank you
Tom Read - 18/08/2003
This show is exactly what the fringe is about - spontatneous, experimental, and just plain mental. Some great throwaway material in here, made all the more manic because the performers were enjoying hurling the frenetic, ramshackle, barrage of comedy at the audience. There is a sick, twisted genius at work here that really left me with no time to catch my breath. It could be said that a lot of it is 'you had to be there' kind of humour, so take my advice - be there.
Lizzie Kinross - 15/08/2003
Delighting and delving into the meaning of words, this comic trio play with words like the sunlight plays with the sea. Lightly, deeply, darkly, meanings flash and sparkle; leaving the audience tingling as they are swept along in a playful tide. Surreal yet warm, their Monty Python-like sketches range from political satire to the physical comedy. Definitely got my gigglesworth. Go, titter and hoot.
Rick Jordan - 17/07/2003
Noel James is one of those comedians' comedians, but saw him putting the 'bollock' into shambolic when he played with plastic dinosaurs and Mark Felgate - tiresome man - a couple of years ago at Edinburgh. This is different. With Steve Best he's created a genuinely inspired double act who rub one another up in the best possible way. Many, many puns - a small rictus may form after a while - but inspired.