Two Episodes Of MASH Present Joe Wilkinson and Diane Morgan
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
This is more a less a sketch show, as far as we can tell. They were winners and runners up in The Hackney Empire, So You Think You’re Funny and Funny Women comedy competitions.
Quirky duo Joe Wilkinson and Diane Morgan don’t want to let on that they’ve put any effort at all into their oddly-named sketch show, shuffling about the room as they mutter lines so lazily that some are lost even in this tiny venue. It’s as if they’re already bored with the whole tedious rigmarole of performing – an ennui that soon spreads around the audience, too.
The night, announced as ‘11 sketches and then we go home’, is a hit-and-miss affair. But even the hits really only have one great line around which the whole scenario hangs; which makes for a very sluggish hour.
On the few occasions the script does work, such as the opening sketch about a man who’s lost his falcon, it’s because an unexpected line swings in from nowhere and flips the scene on its head. There are fleeting moments of such brilliance throughout the hour, but nowhere near enough.
But equally often the duo rely on the easy surrealism of the meaningless non-sequiteur; putting semi-random words and unfashionable celebrities together in the vain hope of hitting gold, or hope that a bizarre scenario alone is enough for laughs.
Their slow, deadpan approach works occasionally, such as the human cannonball who is as jaded with his job as any 9-to-5er, but there’s not enough variation in their energy levels across the sketches. Every character seems bored.
Still, that’s no excuse for the ignorant, ill-mannered knuckle-dragger who thought he’d help by loudly proclaiming: ‘I think you’re rubbish, mate’ mid-sketch, with what aim in mind, who knows? But Wilkinson handled the situation skilfully, diffusing the awkward atmosphere rather than escalating it.
Both he and Morgan, who are interesting and offbeat stand-ups in their own right, are clearly trying to present something a bit different here, and occasionally they do hit home. But they don’t seem to have considered thoroughly enough how the audience will react to 60 minutes of low-energy presentation in an airless cellar Josef Fritzl would be proud of.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett