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Charmian Hughes: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Somehow, I thought the apocalypse would be better organised than this.

Charmian Hughes is marking the Mayans’ End Of Days with voguesh lo-fi charm: a seven-panel advent calendar concealing home-sketched drawings that supposedly encapsulate the situation.

But the forced theme does not suit her well, requiring all manner of long-winded setups to try to shoehorn her one-liners into the conceit. And because there’s no genuine narrative, the hour is muddled and laboured as she tries to create one from nothing.

The jokes themselves cover the entire spectrum, to the tricksy puns you admire despite the strained wordplay, to gags a Christmas cracker manufacturer might baulk at. ‘We have sheepdog trials. What have the sheepdog done?’ Or a line that confuses Wii with wee. Oh dear. Then there’s the ‘what if had a Facebook page…’ bit, which became a tired formula the moment the second comic in the world thought of it, just minutes after the first.

The show is delivered with a folksy down-to-earth charm. After one lovely geographical pun, Hughes utters a modest ‘thank you’ at the reaction, as she was clearly brought up to be polite. She likes knitting and showing us a teenage scrapbook she made. She could be Josie Long’s mum.

But that only gets you so far, and the show is too heavily concerned on talking nonsense around the arbitrary apocalyptic theme, and someone who trades in short jokes need them to come quicker than this. There are a few other bits of business to vary the tone, such as a game from a 1912 book she found that doesn’t pay off, or a ‘dance of the seven cardigans’ which is a bit more daft, and a suitable closer in tone, if not in content given all this end-of-the-world build-up.

It’s an hour of amiable bumbling, but not enough to induce much rapture.

Review date: 18 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Banshee Labyrinth

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