Comic Abuse

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


The best thing about this show is its colour scheme, with
everything presented in stark and stylish black and yellow.

If only such attention to detail were lavished onto the agonisingly
weak script.

Robert Peel, Jack Whitehall and Charlotte Perking are all
frighteningly young and winsomely appealing, eager performers,
so to criticise their output seems as cruel as punching kittens.

But Comic Abuse is cliché-ridden, overlong, unsubtle,
crass and unfunny.

The sketch they open with is a reworking of the old Not The
Nine O'Clock News sketch in which patronising salesmen intimidate
a customer for their lack of detailed technical knowledge. Here
the hi-fi store staff are replaced by nasal computer nerds tied
up in their own in-jokes. When the opening gag is a double-entendre
about hard drives and floppies, you know you're in for a long

There are plenty of attempts at wringing humour from middle-class
white kids talking like rappers, from the Etonian on the bus,
to a David Cameron makeover, and loads of bad puns. But they
tend to mistake shoutiness for wit, when it's really all just
loud, empty noise.

Worst is when Whitehall ­who with someone else's script
has the potential to become a decent, exaggerated caricature
actor in the mould of David Schneider, perhaps ­ takes to
the stage for a painful stand-up routine about sport.

The observations are weak ­ about how America's version
of football is rubbish compared ours, or the use of the word
'handicap' in golf ­ and it's delivered with such a put-on
air of inauthenticity, that we know he's just going through a
script in the way he, wrongly, thinks a real stand-up would tell

It's perhaps nothing experience won't knock out of him, but
the Fringe is an unforgiving place when it comes to making mistakes
in public (and at up to £8 a ticket).

There are glimmers that any or all of these three could become
bigger in the future. Peel is a solid foil, and Perking offers
a song about naïve gap-year poverty tourism that has potential.
But very little of that is realised in this poorly written show.

Steve Bennett

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Published: 1 Jan 2006

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2006

Comic Abuse


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