Pappy's Fun Club: Funergy

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Funergy: a combination of fun and energy; and pretty much the most concise definition you can get of Pappy’s Knockabout style.

The typically ridiculous premise of their boisterous new show is that to reduce carbon emissions, they’ve created a device that could maybe see the National Grid running entirely on a sense of fun. It seems reasonable, as that seems to be pretty much what’s powering all four of them.

No matter how daft or cheesy the material, they fling themselves into it with gusto. The laughs come as much, probably more, from their gang-show mucking about than it does from carefully-considered scripting. But they’re such effortless performers, it’s impossible to know what’s prepared and what’s spontaneous, and it certainly seems like a lot of the back-biting badinage is improvised.

Though they come across as ridiculous fools, there’s a keen sense of structure and purpose behind what they do. Funergy misses some of the most clever and subversive moments that won last year’s offering the if.comedy nomination, but still everything hangs together nicely.

After an initial flurry of quickfire gags and banter, always sharp and silly, the pace, and indeed the quality, dips a bit as we meet characters such as a whimsical owl, the arrogant internet and an aging stuntman. But as the show progresses they all come together in one ridiculously puffed-up storyline, which pulls all the threads together as we advance towards the preposterous denouement and sublime show-stopping song. Elaborate but dirt-cheap props add to the sense of purposefully amateurish exuberance that pervades the whole hour.

Aside from this is a potted version of the Fringe, offering snapshot scenes of imagined productions such as Text Message Hamlet is hit and miss; while a metaphorical bust-up between East Midlands towns is as outlandish and inspired as it is funny – and all in petty revenge for having bad gigs in Nottingham.

The surreal material, though, is less than half the story. The success of Pappy’s stems entirely from the enormous personalities of its creators. The dynamic works excellently, with the smug smarts of Matthew Crosby, the ribald buffoonery of Tom Parry, Ben Clark’s nice-but-dim shtick and the wide-eyed innocence of Brendan Dodds.

Their cartoony characters match their cartoony props, which means this clean hour will entertain kids as much as the adults whose inner child the outrageous shenanigans are so obviously aimed at.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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