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Fly Me to Baboon, at Camden Fringe

Friday, 12 August, 2011

Comedy sketches from Fat Hammond’s Banjo Lounge

Rosalind Blessed and Paul Handley

The press release for this show says that “If you find the thought of jokes about cancer, paedophilia, homosexual superheroes, rape and religion distasteful, shocking and shameful then you are clearly an upstanding member of society with an admirable moral compass. You should also probably avoid coming to see this show.”

Well, I went anyway and what I found was three comedy performers who with better material could be very good indeed. Sadly, there is just that lack of edge in much of it, and the attempts to shock looked more like papered over cracks than an effort to expand the envelope of comedy. That is not to say that the show didn’t have its moments. The girl having to deal with the fact that her blind date is living out an XBox fantasy game was a highlight. I have to say too that I thought the homosexual superheroes sketch was quite fun, but, in the spirit of a man who, when he turns on a TV show titled Monty Python’s Flying Circus and finds neither flying nor a circus, I was a little confused. No banjos. No baboons, either, if it comes to that, and the Frank Sinatra songs that punctuated the sketches only served to increase my confusion. Maybe I’m just too literal for comedy these days.

The performers here – Paul Handley (surely responsible for the animal cruelty humour), Rosalind Blessed, and new member Duncan Wilkins – are engaging, and new member Duncan Wilkins not only fits in well with the group, but also delivers some stand out performances, totally convincing in all of his characters. I particularly liked the pervy young art teacher, getting his students used to sexual symbolism.

Smutty surrealism is what Fat Hammond’s Banjo Lounge tell us to expect, and maybe a little winding down of the smut, and a ratcheting up of the surrealism might pay better dividends for these very capable and animated performers. Possibly the best piece of the evening was what was in Frank’s box, which was a recurring theme, and a little masterpiece of comic timing. It is the little things that count.

reviewed 11 August 2011

(c) Michael Spring 2011

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