Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Two Men. Two Women. The Ugly Kid is a fast and funny sketch show that simply wants to make you happy. Come and laugh at The Ugly Kid. Just try not to point.
Nominated for a 2008 Chortle award for best sketch, variety or character act.
It’s not often you get to write ‘brilliant sketch comedy’ but on this occasion the cast and writers of Ugly Kid thoroughly deserve it. The sketches are turned over quickly, but it’s not cartoon frenetic. No sketch outstays its welcome, nobody hogs the limelight and everybody brings different strengths to the show.
They don’t go down any tediously obvious paths, subverting a corny set up at the start of the show and turning it into something fresh and original.
The four cast members work well together, they clearly understand each others timing. Susan Calman is by turns saucy and straightlaced. She also makes a fine whippet and a completely believable vulnerable child.
Leah MacRae does a fine line in domineering harridans – from a bullying predatory marriage counsellor to fairytale wicked stepmother and a gorgeous film star. In terms of comic acting, there’s something of a young Patricia Routledge about her presence, quite wonderful.
The men are also marvellous. Clean cut and smiley Greg McHugh works well against type as an aggressive interviewee or a gentle granddad who is not what he seems. Last but not least, Will Andrews is blessed with a gangly body, a great voice and a mobile face which moves between handsome and gormless, and at one point just plain horror film hideous.
There are no irritating catchphrases or callbacks, nobody is cast as the fall guy. The characterisations – children, parents, police, girlfriends, are swift and subtle, without gurning and over playing to establish a point.
Some of the best comedy moments are completely non verbal: watching the growing attracting between Calman and Andrews as ‘You’re just too good to be true’ is played is at once hilarious and touching. There’s not one duff bit in the whole show.
Reviewed by: Julian Chambers
Michael Monkhouse - 14/09/2007
What a title, reminiscent of my nickname. What a flyer, reminiscent of 'MAD'. And what a show, reminiscent of nothing else I've ever seen. How dazzling to follow a kaleidoscope of sketches rather than a single stand-up. How joyous to catch a gang aiming 'to make you happy' rather than discuss the political situation in Afghanistan. And how refreshing to watch 'em prove - like the Beatles, Sex Pistols and Young Ones - that good things come in fours.Sure, each member of the quartet can hold his/her own. Susan Calman (a vicious, visceral stand-up, finalist for 2006's Funny Woman Awards) is indecent or innocent, Leah MacRae scary or sassy, Greg McHugh aggressive or amicable, Will Andrews handsome or horrendous. But put them together and what do you get? nEverything. Everything from gawky granddads and maddening marriage guidance counsellors through disturbing doctors and weary whippets (full marks to Susan here) to terrorising twins and (ahem) a 'Slut Slayer'. But no gimmicks, no audience-baiting, no cheesy catchphrases, just seamless sketches with the punch of Python, the absurdity of Absolutely, the litheness of 'Little Britain'. I love Oliver Hardy's physical humour as much as I love Stephen Fry's verbal gymnastics, but a team that combines both in equal measures is a blessing indeed. And I recently read the sketch show's dead. Well tell that to these guys and to the prestigious Comedy Unit, who are currently giving them the attention they so richly deserve... Can't wait to see the result.
Geraint - 28/08/2007
By far the worst of 25+ shows I saw in Edinburgh. Anyone considering this worth more than two stars, let alone five, shouldn't really be reviewing comedy for this website.