As Drawn On FaceTube: 2011 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

What a strange combination this is. Three people dabbling in comedy without much of a clue, plus one expert caricaturist – in the pen-and-ink sense – seeming very much out of place out of place.

The premise of the show is explained through an awkwardly delivered, clunking script. This is the launch of a new social networking site. Cue predictable jokes about ‘fingering’ someone as opposed to ‘poking’ them.

Of the three clearly amateurs behind this, the leader is clearly Sebastian De La Hoy – an older guy in dickie-bow, waistcoat and spangly jacket, with comic sensibilities to match the age and cheesiness of the outfit. ‘Image the looks of Debbie McGee and the voice of Susan Boyle… well that’s my wife – in reverse!’. His character is of a theatrical impresario launching this new website.

David Jones is one of the employees. Not entirely making it clear where the boundaries between fact and fiction lie, he is introduced as a termite expert. And subsequently delivers an apparently factual entomological account of how the beasties communication. It’s not entirely clear where the jokes lie, but he’s got a jaunty manner, and seems to be having fun.

The other member of this strange trinity is Joe Bains, the nominal IT guy, who does lots of heavily scripted yet still ill-thought-through material about Indian call centres. He asks us lots of questions allegedly from the British citizenship test, without giving us the answers – then says, in so many words, ‘Ha! Ha! ‘ you wouldn’t pass; with no other joke to it. Then he gets us to imitate the stereotypical Indian head-wobble without pausing to acknowledge that and liberal white audience might find this – you know – kinda racist.

Throughout the show, there are plenty of awkward silences as people come on and off stage, and the script is recited with the sort of reverence that you might apply to Koranic verse, no one [save Jones] dare deviate from it even though it’s laboured and unfunny..

Artist Helen Pointer, elegant in ringmaster’s top hat and tails, adds an unusual angle to all this, bringing members of the audience on stage to render convincing caricatures of them as various movie pin-ups. Sometimes she has exclusive use of the stage to do this, sometimes she does it as sketches of the comedy kind – and I use the term broadly – take place in front of her, splitting the audience’s attention. She’s very good at what she does, but its integration into an already stilted comedy performance has not been properly considered.

Her aside, these are clearly three professional chaps who rather fancy themselves as comedians giving it bash, out of their depth because they don't really understand what it takes. Their earnest naivety means it’s hard to dislike them, even when the show fails against any empirical measure of what’s funny.

Review date: 23 May 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton The Temple

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