Dave Skinner & Friends
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2005
As a tiny girl of three, Dave took a sketch show to 1977's Edinburgh Fringe. It bombed. Now, the Fringe is much bigger, as is Dave, and his show.
In a neat set-up, we are told that Dave Skinner called in drunk and disillusioned and unable to make the show, so his actor friend will have to cover for him – dragging in a few guests to interview.
It won’t astound you to learn that the visitors are Skinner in various guises, but the way the premise is established is professional, yet quirky. It’s in keeping with the classy style that runs through the entire hour. Yet while both script and performance are robust, they don’t generate that many laughs.
One of the few is a real blinder, coming in the unlikely form of a Blind Date style answer to a question about favourite desserts, and is one of the best lines on the Fringe. But it’s pretty lonely.
Skinner’s characters all seem a little too conventional to really inspire even if he does inhabit them all completely, demonstrating an acting ability his stand-up doesn’t normally permit.
The quintet comprise an adventure-loving, booming-voiced bearded thespian (called Brian Beloved, in case you couldn’t quite work out who it’s supposed to be); a similarly transparent Chris de Burgh spoof; Todd Singer, a whiney American prone to blights of nausea; an Elephant Man-style freak, his misshapen head masked by sackcloth; and mild-mannered Keith Snape, bullied by his butch Russian internet bride.
Although pervaded with a witty spirit, the sketches seem cosy and familiar and not daring to venture much beyond a mild parody, such as the infatuation De Burgh (or whatever Skinner chose to call him) has with women in various scarlet-hued garments.
It’s all really a lot of nothing, well presented but not above the ordinary – and so hard to justify a place in a busy Fringe-goers packed schedule, despite that one very good joke.