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Inglorious Stereo

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Man, these guys need a bigger audience. Not just because they are one of the funniest sketch outfits on the Fringe, but their style of bizarre anarchy needs a critical mass of supporters to conspire with them, a number they’re struggling to attract.

Spending a little over a week at the festival won’t be long enough to build that fan base, either. But Inglorious Stereo should be on the ‘to do’ list of anyone seeking offbeat, sometimes maniacally odd, comedy delivered expertly.

You might recognise Paul Putner from a host of supporting roles in Little Britain, most notably as one of the Fat Fighters regulars, while collaborator Glen Richardson was a member of the Ornate Johnsons troupe. Together, they have created some uproariously bizarre scenes – but with real punchlines to underpin the leftfield high jinx. This is what the early days of Vic and Bob must have been like, if performed by people who know exactly what they are doing.

In the interests of full disclosure, there are a couple of duds: the Battenburg sketch goes on too long, as does the very slow-paced scene in which a Tim Rice-style lyricist earnestly talks us through his musical based on Terry’s All Gold. But they only stand out because the rest of the hour is so exquisitely done.

Putner and Glen’s take on the Four Candles sketch puts the classic Two Ronnies original in the shade; the karaoke scene is a whole tragic-comic drama played out in a couple of minutes of near-mime, while the bloke whose laugh is identical to the Some Mothers Do Ave ‘Em theme song is inspired genius.

Another genuinely unforgettable creation is the Rev 2-Tone, combining his love of reggae, snacks and gospel stories in one fabulously bonkers – but surprisingly catchy – song; while a passing knowledge of obscure late-Seventies mass culture is a must for the admirably precise references – Kieran Prendiville, anyone? – spouted by the other star character, Frankie Tan.

This is a fantastic take on the awful variety entertainer of the era, fiddling nervously with the microphone and visibly losing faith in his material and corny catchphrase as the set progresses, before switching to equally poor observational shtick, which he performs with a perfect parody of the McIntyre Stride™. And that’s before we’ve witnessed his magnificent show-stopper: a gloriously chaotic version of that old-school impressionists’ classic routine: Old McDonald Had A Farm, with celebrities rather than animals.

At the end, the stage is littered with discarded, tacky props, Tan’s dignity in tatters and an audience helpless with laughter. Truly, a class act.

Review date: 12 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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