The Old Spice Girls | Brighton Fringe review by Steve Bennett

The Old Spice Girls

Note: This review is from 2014

Brighton Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Oh dear. On first inspection, you’d chalk up Katie Field and Kathryn Spencer as two well-intentioned but misguided stand-up newcomers, coming to comedy late in life and not quite knowing what they’re doing. But their CVs state that they both started three years ago, and Katie has 400 gigs under her belt.

Yet over all that time, they have learned very little about engaging with an audience or really how conversational stand-up works. This show feels over-scripted and cliched, with performances so wooden you could make Tudor warships from them.

To be fair, Field is the more natural performer, not entirely scared of spontaneity, even berating us for not laughing where she expects. And that happens a lot with a set that covers every tired comedy topic, such as Viagra, vajazzles and dogging. She seems to hope that just mentioning the word is enough, the naughty older lady saying something inappropriate. There are also some puns which she sells cheerily, but don’t quite land.

Spencer, on the other hand, is an ex-Fleet Street gossip columnist of eight years’ standing, although that doesn’t elicit any memorable tales. And jokes of the standard of how she’s could otherwise have spent her gym membership or how she counts wine as one of her five-a-day would probably just raise a mild smile if your friend said it... as considered comedy material, it just doesn’t cut it.

The Old Spice Girls of the title is not just a pun of convenience either – as they’ve tried to go with it as a full theme, painfully cracking jokes about the Wannabe video (topical!) or Jimmy Savile liking Baby Spice best. Before embarking their solo sets, they deliver their over-rehearsed banter on this subject with all the chemistry of two people who have never met before.

A guest in the form of American Annabel O'Connell, is more slick – and more interesting, given her stories of being packed off to an Irish convent by her strict Catholic parents to ‘cure’ her of expressing an interest in sex. The gags never truly zing, but at least they feel like the basis of a proto-professional set, aiming to be honest and funny.

It feels a little rotten slating the Old Spice Girls, as they are clearly amateurs doing it for themselves, rather than nursing any great ambition. But that ‘400 gigs’ figure leaps out. All that stage time and they still feel like two affable aunties tentatively having a go at public speaking at a wedding, rather than two comedians in the making.

Review date: 20 May 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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