Review: Delightful Sausage @ XS Malarkey

SKETCH duo, The Delightful Sausage, performed their unique style of abstract comedy at XS Malarkey in Manchester last night.

Fans of intellectual, thought provoking comedy would wince at this act, but if silly is your bag, then these two are bankers.

Chris Cantrill and Amy Gledhill form the duo, with Amy living up to the act’s name by relishing her role dressed as a hot dog. With the humble sausage being inherently funny, even to the most prudish, the audience are set off tittering immediately.

 

Silly comedy can easily nose dive and, despite its frenzied nature, needs a finesse in order to decipher the material most likely to work for a audiences.

Chris and Amy achieved this. Helped by inventing a clever vehicle for their jokes in the form of a mock seminar on internet advice, they gave themselves a structure for their seemingly random punch lines.

The duo bounced off each other well, with Amy providing the set ups for Chris, who’s deadpan delivery hit home the unusual, yet hilarious jokes.

Although residents of comedy clubs around Manchester, the duo will certainly find a home at Edinburgh this summer, with their comedy capturing the essence of the fringe festival.

 

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Review: Patricia Hartshorne – In The Fuhrer’s Face

ONE of the most anticipated shows of the 2016 Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, ‘In The Fuehrer’s Face’, was performed at Salford’s King’s Arms on Saturday (July 23) afternoon. 

Experienced actor and stage performer Patricia Hartshorne displays her many talents in this one woman cabaret show all about none other than Adolf Hitler.

Taking its name from a 1943 American propaganda film starring Donald Duck, ‘In The Fuehrer’s Face’ is a 50-minute mix of stand-up comedy, songs, both funny and poignant, and captivating stories.

Hitler, synonymous with the atrocities he committed, is a rich source of material, but material that has to be handled with care.

Hartshorne’s choice of anecdotes in this respect is superb, focussing on those who, as she put it, gave Hitler one in the eye.

Her anecdotes are fascinating, always keeping the audience hooked by seamlessly transitioning between a melange of diverse characters.

There’s no real costume changes, besides a few hats and, of course, Hitler’s signature toothbrush tash, but this isn’t necessary due to Hartshorne’s acting prowess.

Hartshorne’s multilingual talents are also on display, performing songs and bit parts of monologues in French and German.

Listening to some of the show in something other than the audience’s mother tongue adds an extra dimension, helping the audience to buy into the historical characters by bringing them to life.

Songs come at regular intervals throughout. Some are funny, such as the classic ditty about Hitler’s infamous monorchism (or his one ball) and the other about the master race, in which Hartshorne encourages the audience to blow raspberries upon raising her two fingers during the chorus.

Other songs were relatively heartfelt. A rendition of La Complainte Du Partisan, a French song originally by Anna Marly, is sung beautifully and changes the entire atmosphere from jovial to reflective, almost as if a switch had been flicked.

A dirge about Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun, had a similar despondent effect later in the show.

Not only is the switch flicked back, but the fuse box explodes.

The risk involved in such a stunt does pay off; helped by the content of the rest of the show, but one would certainly advise her not to wear them whilst walking down the street on a gusty day.

The stories told are claimed to be true, and in amongst them are little titbits of Nazi history, some of which are so ludicrous that they earn a laugh themselves without needing a corresponding gag.

Despite this, there are plenty of jokes, particularly at the beginning, helping to warm the audience up, with Hartshorne’s assured delivery creating light ripples of laughter. A joke about a certain Mr Donald Trump however, got a bigger reaction.

The show finishes on a repeat singalong of the Master Race, and, although the show has poignant touches, the good old hand gesture rounds up the show rather well.

In The Fuerher’s Face manages to look at a well-covered subject from a whole new angle, with Hartshorne proving herself to be a brilliant character actress capable of providing seriousness as well as silliness.

3

 

Review: James & Seaburn – Pigeon Trousers

James & Seaburn

[First published on Quays News 18/07/16]

SKETCH double act James & Seaburn performed their very first preview of their new show Pigeon Trousers at the King’s Arms last night (July 16). I was there for us to see the show that will be making its way up to Edinburgh next month.

The King’s Arms is a lively pub perfect for comedy, however, James & Seaburn would have had the right to be a little aggrieved with the pokey studio they had been given, far from ideal for their show full of props and swift costume changes.

Pigeon Trousers is the double acts second show at the Greater Manchester Fringe and consists of a mix of songs, sketches with bits of stand up and improvisation thrown in. The title of the show is meaningless; in no way is it a bird fashion show, but it sums up the sporadic jumps between contrasting sketches rather well.

Both comics are accomplished musicians, but strike the balance of songs to sketches well. Ian Seaburn appears to be truly at home with a guitar around his neck and Nicola James has a voice that many a professional singer would be proud of.

One musical sketch that stands out focusses on an all mythical horse glam rock band called Rockin’ Horses. The costumes alone are funny and the unique idea allows for a wealth of character based jokes which are delivered superbly. The characters reappear to conclude the show, however, the song didn’t work on this particular night due to the fact that it was the first time they had performed it together.

Many of the sketches contained the idea of bringing either inanimate objects or animals to life by giving them a human perspective. A pair of socks that went through a break up, a hand bag and dagger moaning about securing film roles, a poem from a cat and of course the Rockin’ Horses are all inventive ideas that are performed with high energy and enthusiasm.

A call back to an earlier sketch at the end of the show is one of the most surreal moments, but the twisted logic it derives from is a hilarious piece of sketch writing. The homemade costumes presented a side-splitting image that sticks in the memory.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the show is silly. The duo know this better than anyone, their smirks throughout the show indicating that they themselves love this type of comedy. They hilariously allude to the silliness of the show when they seemingly attempt to perform a serious section about hoe some idioms contradict each other. The explanation that ensues uses dubious mathematics and is done at a comical speed to ensure maximum stupidity is achieved.

Tonight’s show wasn’t slick, and even though it was a first preview and you would allow a wide margin for error, the two experienced comics missed the professionalism mark by a distance. Improvisation held the show together but in a way the mistakes and mishaps added to the mishmash feel of the show.

As was said at the end, the duo learnt a great deal from the first outing of their show. The sketch ideas are unique and although eccentric, they are easy to follow with good jokes, and a smattering of clever puns. With more efficient transitions and stronger assurance in their performance, Pigeon Trousers has potential to be a big hit in Edinburgh and beyond.

3