Thünderbards: 4th | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney
review star review star review half star review blank star review blank star

Thünderbards: 4th

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney

Four shows in now, and Thünderbards seem to be running out of steam. 

Glenn Moore and Matt Stevens know how to put together an Edinburgh show by now – Glenn is on his second solo effort too – and sure enough, 4nd is competent enough in its energy and slickness. But there is a distinct whiff of ‘will this do?’ to a lot of the ideas, which lack the comic flair of the pair's earlier work.

To start with the good:  there are some fine moments that find their way through the cracks, like the Elton John interview that unerringly comes back to the subject of his ‘early stuff’, and a sketch about an echo in a house that gives away Glenn's big secret. The latter is by far the strongest sketch of the show, but it only serves to highlight the dearth of quality elsewhere. Moore’s way with wordplay, which is the foundation of his solo comedy, is also a semi-constant feature of the show, popping up in the script like a linguistic whack-a-mole.

But I couldn’t escape the feeling that a lot of the ideas hadn’t been pursued to their most comedic ends. Three such examples are the dating app for people under witness protection, the historical Edinburgh shows going back hundreds of years, and some aimless larking about with autotune. These were thrown away as lightweight skits, their potential left largely unexplored. Meanwhile, the two hardened cops drip-feeding us information about a Scooby Doo show was a sketch-by-numbers, and the script reading where the screenwriter was obsessed with the word ‘minge’ shouldn't have made it past the ideas stage. 

Perhaps tellingly, there is a self-reflexive aspect to 4nd, in the guise of a voiceover that appears intermittently to grill Glenn and Matt in turn, asking about the characters they have written, what the show is about, whether they are failures. This may sound like a needless interruption to a show that's unashamedly silly and whimsical, but it actually feels like necessary texture: a little break from the usual. 

A running thread of Glenn sleeping with Matt’s now ex-girlfriend also gives us something to cling on to, though again, not to any profound comic effect. The woman in question, Francesca, is the star of many an airbrushed, soft-focus stock photo, and thus the subject of a few nice visual gags.

Thünderbards have always reminded me of Fry and Laurie in their BBC sketch days, but 4nd is more reminiscent of F&L's later series when the writing spark had waned. And with so many other terrific sketch acts around on today's live circuit, Thünderbards suddenly look wanting. 

Review date: 4 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.