Marek Larwood - Pleasance Courtyard
For those of you not familiar with him, Marek is one of the comedy trio of perfection known as We Are Klang. If you have not heard their radio shows or watched their BBC programmes, drop everything immediately and do what you have to do (*ahem* downloading) to check them out. You might go to jail, but just the memory of the jokes will get you through the inevitable shanking/terrifying mind games/soap dropping.
Sick of playing characters who are hit by shovels, his show ‘Typecast’ is his opportunity (ably assisted by the excellent Sophie Black) to demonstrate he actually has the acting range of a man pissing with an erection.
If this show is a class in physical comedy, he is not the teacher; he’s the visiting professor who the teacher is very excited to have in specially. The audience evolves into giddy children in the middle of a full-on hour long giggling fit. The costume drama roles are particularly funny, as is the Steven Seagal acting kit.
But throughout the show, Marek also reminds us that he is actually quite clever. ‘Typecast’ is an astutely-observed on the formulaic nature of comedy. His rules for observational comedy are gold, including, say ‘have you ever noticed’ about something totally obvious; drink water slowly to show how relaxed you are; and make the guy in the front row look like a total dick. Another gem- Did you know ‘improvisation’ is Greek for ‘not as funny as other stuff’? He has the best time/date joke (with the best callback I’ve heard this year). He handles two potential troublemakers in the audience with perfect aplomb (including calling them ‘concessions’ the whole time).
The strongest part is the send-up on the great British comedy panel show. Marek pulls an audience member named Dave up to compete against him in a series of rounds. From the beginning, Dave is slaughtering him, and each successive forfeit sees Marek by the end with trousers down at his ankles and mustard smeared all over his face, and - this is no exaggeration - having to open the exit door, wander into the venue’s packed family garden outside, and singing at the tops of his lungs ‘Mommy wow, I’m a big kid now’. Meanwhile Dave reveals he’s a comic with a rival show and proceeds to pass out flyers to the audience while Marek is humiliating himself outside.
I had to pick myself off the floor I was laughing so hard. The audience is in stitches.
I really hope he takes this show on the road, because I will see it again, and will be bringing about 20 friends with me. An absolutely brilliant show for fans of physical comedy. Love, love, loved it.
The Blanks- Gilded Balloon
I have to say that again. Bloody hell.
They work HARD for the money. So buy their cds.
My jaw was agape throughout the entire show ‘The Blanks’ Big Break’. How do these men keep up the energy and the intensity? Maybe it is the years of experience together. Maybe it’s their obvious chemistry. Maybe it’s just the cans of Red Bull strewn about the stage.
The entire show centres on the premise that the Blanks are trying to get agent Marty Robart to sign them to a contract, which will enable them to perform in outer space (don’t ask the details, just roll with it). And Marty’s recommendations for the elements of a good show include an obstacle (to add an arc), a personal reveal that makes the audience slightly uncomfortable, smooth transitions, and of course, an 80’s song that the audience will feel compelled to sing along with.
What follows is a delightful barrage of medleys, banter, jokes, physical comedy, all designed to fit Marty’s recommendations to a tee.
The medleys are killer. Among the particularly popular ones are Facts of Life/Flipper/Charles in Charge/Speed Racer and the rock n’ roll medley of Who are You?/Don’t Fear the Reaper/Lollipop/Carry on My Wayward Son.
Unsurprisingly, Scrubs related meta-references pepper the show- it’s how the crowd know them and it is what they want. A long version of the Six Million Dollar Man bit they do as Ted’s band on the show is inspired. Their cheeky statement that Zach Braff was in the audience make everyone freak out (he wasn’t).
They were great with the audience- not just with the sing-a-long to the 80s song, pulling people on to the stage to get involved. Philip climbing onto a girl and then her boyfriend was a particular audience favourite.
The other thing that strikes you is that it is so clean. But the clean really works. Usually clean shows make me feel dirty- like I’ve sold out, or I’m getting old. But it really was just lots of fun. So go see them. They tour extensively, so you have no excuses.
Oh, the most important question of all- do they get the contract to sing in space at the end? You’ll have to see them to find out. Or just ask me. I’m no good with secrets.