Service With A Smile

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Festivals throw comics together, providing rare opportunities for a little alchemy. Yet Cat Laughs, despite its reputation for combining on single bills the sort of big-name comics who are more used to touring alone, hasn’t always exploited this opportunity.

Service With A Smile was an attempt to put that right, bringing together five stand-ups to talk about the terrible jobs they did in the past. The loose panel format of the show made for sharp banter and great anecdotes, breaking away from well-honed routines to showcase comics genuinely engaging – and competing – with each other. It’s only a shame this didn’t attract a wider audience, as the few dozen who did attend were treated to some brilliant, spontaneous comedy.

Running jokes naturally emerged. Host Karl Spain worked in a burger chain with Geroid Farrelly, where – it seems – he had something of a reputation of a ladies’ man. After all, women love a man in uniform… even if the uniform is that of Clarence Cheeseburger. Adam Hills, meanwhile, was mercilessly teased for his charmed life, even the worst job he had seemed to involve women throwing themselves at him.

Along with Andrew Stanley – another fast food alumnus – and Colin Murphy, who seemed to have done every shitty manual job under the sun, the quintet covered workplace anecdotes such as the pranks they played on each other, awkward customers, the incident that got them fired, and the incidents that ought to have got them fired. All fertile ground for hilarity.

As with any panel shows there was the occasional lull, but the stories flowed thick and fast, with their own payoffs enhanced by additional gags from around the stage. Nothing brings out wit more than the need to impress your peers, while each of the panellists remained gracious enough to allow their colleagues the space to tell their tales.

Service With A Smile may be in need of a better title if it’s to lure the audiences – but it proved a great idea. And surely an inexhaustible one… for surely every comedian is only a comedian because they couldn’t cope in a real workplace.

Review date: 5 Jun 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Kilkenny Set Theatre

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