Camels | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Camels

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Patrick McPherson and Zac Peel might be newcomers to Edinburgh sketch comedy, but it feels like these relative youngsters been doing it for years.

Firstly for their effortlessly slick performances and solid writing, but also, less positively, because the skits are all broadly in line with so many forebears who’ve followed the path from Fringe to Radio 4 and beyond that, they feel safe and familiar with no defining characteristic. Though judging from their ticket sales, that’s no concern at the box office.   

And within the scope of personable, knowing, actorly comedy double-acts, this ‘hour of distraction’ from the woes of the world boasts some good ideas, always well-executed. 

Judas confessing to his mother that he might have grassed up his friend could almost have been a deleted scene from Life Of Brian. A less memorable historic sketch has soldiers inside the Trojan horse pondering if the ruse would work, but it pootles along nicely enough.

They are not afraid of corn; with some cheesy wordplay here and there, and especially in a pained eggs-change of egg-based aphorisms. They thankfully avoided the obvious pun when it came to the plumbers who are in sync, which turns out to be an original take on male bonding; while another exploration of the same theme, the dad taking his son out stargazing, amusingly reveals marital embitterment.

They have a playful edge to their performing dynamic, occasionally acting as if to trip each other up with an unplanned decision – though I wasn’t entirely convinced that these exchanges were genuinely spontaneous. 

The therapist character beings such teasings front and centre, asking his client to relate his problems in the manner of some unlikely personas. It sounds like a bad improv game. Meanwhile, the bee jealous of a wasp’s stinging abilities feels like the acting-out part of a stand-up’s observational set writ large, perhaps pushing the original premise a bit too hard.

Elsewhere this pair – dressed in camel-coloured clothing to give them their brand – channel Ronnie Barker, though understandably not quite as slickly as the inimitable original, with a charity appeal for those who cannot say words containing the letter ‘e’. This is a bit more show-offy than it is funny, but still amusing. 

Overall, Camels  – who cut their teeth on the London student circuit – are a mainstream comedy prospect, making up in dependable laughs what they might lack in surprise or originality.  Yet success is often found in the mainstream, and it would not entirely be surprising if this pair found it.

Review date: 20 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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