BriTANicK | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Terrible name, classy comedy. BriTANicK – rhymes with Titanic, that ‘famously successful’ liner – is an ugly portmanteau of this sketch duo’s names, Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher. Thankfully a lot more work went into writing this drum-taut sketch act than naming it.

At first, everything seems a little too slick and over-produced, a pair of American thespians showing off the performance and mime skills they have spent two decades polishing. Sketches about a haunting that goes weird, poets processing their trauma or a duel are sharply written, but McElhaney and Koche know it, giving the skits a slightly self-congratulatory air of tight control. Oh, how I yearned for the wild anarchy of a Klang or a Pappy’s of Fringes past.

But with patience comes reward, as the show, directed by comic Alex Edelman, slowly sheds its respectability, letting running jokes bubble up to seize control of the increasingly absurd narrative that links the skits. Seeds planted in early sketches burst into full blossom making those clever scenes even more clever and funny than on first hearing.

There’s progression in the personas of Brian and Nick, too, as they mull the state of their joint career, given they are still performing in a ‘metal box in the street’ after so many years together. Nick, especially, has other concerns: not least the fact that his fiancé is insisting on sex hiatus until they tie the knot, so the wedding night will be all that special. It’s making him very frustrated indeed.

As the show starts folding back on itself, it gets funnier and funnier, now we better understand the landscape better and they lose some of the formality. A skit about ‘poor memory syndrome’ – which they acknowledge is Pythonesque, but is excellent in its own right – is necessarily super-tight, but they lean into the stupidity of it. Fittingly their performances between the clearly-defined sketches loosen up, too, as they add more pent-up passion and drip in more references to the real world.

And then a payoff to the whole hour that would seem corny if written down, but comes as a surprise and is perfect in making sense (well, -ish) of all that has gone before. It proves a rewarding climax to an increasingly funny hour.

BriTANicK is on at Assembly George Square at 7.45pm

Review date: 14 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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