The comedy world is a seething mass of resentment, bitchiness and desperation. But unless you’re one of the performers or go to see a ridiculous amount of Edinburgh Fringe shows you’re probably not going to get a inside view of the marvelous soap opera that rolls into town once a year. Unless of course you get yourself along to either Joke Thieves or its younger sibling Sketch Thieves. Both are the deliciously simple but beautifully effective comedy constructs dreamt up by comedian Will Mars. The original idea in Joke Thieves is that four comedians do five minutes or so of their routine, they then swap things around and each person has to ‘do’ another person’s act as accurately or loosely as possible. Cue loads of comic potential as comics grapple with accents, impressions, musical comedy, physical comedy… And of course, there’s the bitchiness as routines and images are trashed.
As for Sketch Thieves – more people involved so more fun? Well, I don’t know if more but certainly just as much. On the first day the acts were The Jest, Gein’s Family Giftshop, Sam and Tom and Loren O’Brien. So – we had a single woman re-enacting a sketch for three men while they did her solo piece; meanwhile the double act did the threesome and vice versa. Of course every act is going to pick their most individual piece so we had a lapdance / (almost full) strip, a dodgy impression of Stevie Wonder and a hybrid of Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee as the Human Caterpillar. Cue snidey mutterings and asides with eyes-on-the-prize Radio 4 friendly troupes versus anarchic /’end of the pier’ (quote) humour. Great stuff!
In my memories of Jokes Thieves they would always ask the audience to vote for their favourite at the end. I guess in Sketch Thieves it’s less fair (eh?) as the underdog is going to win. In the first of the run this had to be the single white (and American) female Loren O’Brien who coped admirably well. In fact all of the acts looked as though they would be worth a fuller viewing but the real star has to be Sketch Thieves itself. So get yourself along to that or Joke Thieves and you won’t be disappointed. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
(review for 6 Aug)