Foil Arms and Hog: Hogwash | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Foil Arms and Hog: Hogwash

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Can you still be considered a cult act when you’ve had a billion online views? 

Sean Finegan (Foil), Conor McKenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog) return to the cavernous McEwan Hall with another high-energy hour, playing mainly to an audience of loyal fans from far and wide. The formula is tried and tested: pinpointing a few audience members they can build into the show, followed by a mixture of long- and short-form sketches and musical numbers, heavy on improvisation, and some further audience participation.

It’s a formula that works with mixed results, with the hour-long format perhaps working against them. The strongest and most elaborate sketch comes first, with Foil attempting to solve a 200-year-old murder mystery, with some excellent work by Arms mining the tropes of horror films featuring creepy children and Hog providing much of the physical comedy. Unexpected noises off from a babe-in-arms in the audience were seized upon nicely to embellish the narrative. This was the high point of the evening, and nothing that followed was of the same standard.

Musical skits included the trio rebelling against their nursing home, the weirdness of Olympic walking and an over-extended skit about musical theatre. Another sketch that outstayed its welcome involved an unusual accidentally-sourced prop, but as a one-joke idea suffered from a law of diminishing returns. Audience callbacks and interaction proved to be second-half highlights, with the ‘victims’ embracing their walk-on parts, cheered on by the capacity crowd. 

The success or otherwise of the individual sketches is really of no importance in a Foil, Arms and Hog show, it’s all about the trio’s relationship, their commitment to sheer silliness, and their ability to feed off the crowd. Their improvisation skills remain sharp and, perhaps more importantly, generous. Any individual desire to steal the limelight usually acts as an incentive and a platform for one or both of the others to top it.

Hogwash is a show that delivers what the audience clearly wants, and fans will surely be back next year for their fix of contained anarchy. While it would be exciting to see the team push the envelope a bit more, and raise the writing level, why change a winning formula?

• Foil Arms and Hog: Hogwash is on at Underbelly, Bristo Square at 9.15pm

Review date: 19 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Matt Carwardine-Palmer
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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