Hooked: Mr Sister | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Hooked: Mr Sister

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Holly Kellingray and Brooke Jones met while studying acting at Arts University Bournemouth - and several years on, a drama school vibe still permeates their characters.

As the double act Mr Sister, their characters are big and brash – the sort where an exaggerated accent passes for a personality trait  – but display more chutzpah than wit. Their energy’s appealing but unfocussed in scattergun, messy sketches.

The best comedy skits always have single good idea at their core - pet-shop owner refuses to admit parrot is dead, Nazis come to slow realisation they might be the ‘baddies’ – which is gently teased out and expanded upon. But the scenes in Hooked vigorously throw all sorts of ideas haphazardly into the mix in the hope some will catch. 

Rarely could you encapsulate in one sentence what’s really going on. A scene set in a pitch-black restaurant throws doctors, policemen, waiters and dates – one of which may or may not be Pamela Anderson – into the jumble, so it’s never clear where the central joke is. Who are these characters? What do they want? It’s hoped the noise might be enough to distract, but that soon wears thin.

And other times the premises are too self-consciously off-the-wall to gain traction, such as an imminent father-to-be compulsively obsessed with DVDs. There are precious few follow-up jokes to progress that idea, but they pursue it doggedly anyway.

The show is wrapped in some nonsense based on renewing their BFF vows – in actuality, a warped version of the code of conduct they signed up to on entering uni. It doesn’t do much in imposing structure on this cauldron of hyperactivity.

Posh but useless wine snobs are more clearly defined, but a bit of a cliché, while an air fryer and a traditional oven being personified as wiseguys more successfully combine a weird premise with relevant jokes. And while Mr Sister love a non-sequitur, they love a dirty double entendre more, perhaps most exemplified when a pensioner and a teenager trade veiled insults as they vie to be homecoming queen.

The pair boast of their social media traction – 15 million views on TikTok, for instance – where a blast of weirdness from an over-the-top character might be attention-grabbing for the requisite 20 seconds or so, but making the scene increasingly random doesn’t really hold it.

Yet for all the bluster, Kellingray and Jones are charismatic and likeable with a definite chemistry, especially in those rare moments when they can let go of the fact they are performing a script to be more natural and less full-on. That said, their willingness to sacrifice dignity is definitely a comic asset – but it would have more impact if more sparingly deployed.

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Review date: 6 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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