Angry Puppy

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

There’s no gimmicks to Angry Puppy, no big overall theme or particular personality; just four Scottish writer-performers with a collection of straightforward sketches, played down the line.

It’s often difficult to make such unadorned sketch comedy work, but this lot have come up with a surprising novel way of tackling that problem: being funny.

The impression is that everything started with an actual, proper joke. Not a vague ‘wouldn’t it be kinda funny if…’ kind of notion, but a single point of revelation, exposing something humorous. Scenes are then built around these punchlines. They are brief if there’s not that much more to say, a bit longer if there are gags worth having on the way. A simple, but rarely followed, formula

A list of characters and settings doesn’t shed much light on the quality: an demonically demanding public-school headmistress, a girl obsessed with her dad, a hi-fi shop customer who too easily takes offence, a pensioner trying to become Gala Queen. But be assured that all the scenes are pulled off with flair.

In many of the sketches, the joke revolves around one deranged character becoming increasingly animated as all around them continue to act perfectly normally, so allowing the comics ramp up their performance with exciteable energy one at a time, without the whole show becoming too loud.

Not quite every one hits home, but the strike rate is well above average, with the quality becoming ever stronger as the show progressing, providing a natural momentum in the laughs. Only one character recurs – thank god – and there’s good reason for her too, rather than simply reheating the same old gag.

The other thing to mention is that Angry Puppy is an all-female group, but, refreshingly, they make nothing of the fact. Many such projects wear their gender on their sleeve, but this lot are just too busy writing strong sketches to worry about such things.

They play up to their characteristics, but are not limited to them: stand-up Susan Calman can pull off the innocent dope look brilliantly, Marj Hogarth has a nice line in stern authority figures, Leah MacRae excels in the gobby harridan roles, while Kirsten McLean tends to be the straightwoman, but not always.

The group is stronger than its parts, and certainly worthy of wider exposure. Since this show is made with the backing of Scottish TV production company The Comedy Unit, that may well be on the cards. But why wait, when you can see them now?

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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