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Milo McCabe: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

There’s an intriguing idea at the heart of this hour, although it requires some unpicking from the  jumbled narrative and ill-fitting character showcases. It also only really works if, as a punter, you have done a bit of homework in to what you’re watching – which is a risky assumption on the Fringe, where people wander in to shows on all manner of whims.

Basically, Milo McCabe has recruited his dad, the genuine old-school comedian Mike McCabe, to play a fictional comic of that same generation, Kenny Moon, while Milo  takes on a series of creations, including Moon’s dim-witted son, Tyson. The whole fictional names business is entirely unnecessary and seems to exist either just to underline that McCabe Sr isn’t as much a sad case as his alter-ego, or to tie into last year’s show, which introduced Tyson to Edinburgh audiences.

Some real-life incidents from Mike’s professional career are also added to the mix. Back in the day, he seems to have had a run-in with one end-of-the-pier double act who tried to sabotage his performance, while he apparently landed in court after stealing a joke from one of the then-new ‘alternative’ comedians. (Cursory research also reveals he was involved in a court case with a group of Paras, who refused to pay him for one show, claiming that he did not fulfil his contractual obligation to be funny)

Both McCabe and his alter ego also appeared on The Comedians after winning early-Eighties talent show New Faces, which at one point is described as being ‘like X-Factor, but with racism’. That’s a bit rich given Milo’s portrayal of Irish travellers here as a big fat gypsy stereotype of dodgy tarmackers who eat hedgehogs, always fight and are married off at 14, but we’ll let it go.

The hour is  presented as  a This Is Your Life tribute to Moon, presented by a stilted and awkward Chris Henry, who’s also a stand-up. In the show Moon is reunited with his relative Keith (the gypsy character), Bunny from the old-school double act – where pretty much all they do is trade old pub gags about Viagra – a suave thespian type called Troy, Tyson, and, via video, his aggressive cockney agent.

A lot of this is self-indulgent twaddle, with a dependency on audience participation, but there are some funny elements: Troy taking about the evils of pink custard or introducing a comedy sidekick to The Cherry Orchard was a particular highlight. That the cast occasionally corpses adds to the slapdash feel of proceedings, but also gets the laughs.

So it’s all a bit messy with a feel, even at the end of the festival, of a work in progress – even if it has its moments.

Review date: 27 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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