Are David Schneider's friends funnier than he is?
Andrew Mickel20 July 2011
Schneider’s first live show in 15 years isn’t bad, it’s just quite average. His friends, on the other hand, look destined for bigger and better things…
Everyone knows someone who is an alright bloke who happens to have friends who are much more interesting than they are.
This is Schneider’s first live show in 15 years, and he still knows how to get through a set and work with an audience (albeit one that seemed to be willing him to be good). Unfortunately, his friends know how to do much more.
Most of his set consisted of one decent sketch on an incompetent magician and a well-executed but ultimately seen-it-before History of Dance routine.
The rest of his set was bulked out with internet videos. When a friend shows you a YouTube video, odds are that you’re using about 30% of your brain to pay attention, and using the other 70% to think what video you want to show next. Doing it in a big tent – especially when the gods of technology are conspiring to break your streaming and ruin your timing – isn’t really any better.
None of this was explicitly bad, just a little underwhelming after 15 years away. But what of David’s friends?
Sketch group Spymonkey slayed the audience with their silent examination of Mother Teresa’s dark side. At a time when the circuit seems to be brimming with surprisingly young talent, they have comparatively older members. But their experience shows in the funniest clowning about at the festival.
In particular Petra Massey, playing Mother T, has a history of stunts, circus work and physical performance, turned walking across the stage hunched over with a deranged smile into a work of comic art. Also, someone else gets their cock out, and if that isn’t good for a laugh, then what is?
(Spymonkey reappeared the next night at Tina C’s closing show and showed that this wasn’t a one-trick pony from Massey. Stomping around the stage as a confused mentalist’s assistant, she managed to win over the entire audience with a comic timing and sweet demeanour that would put Tommy Cooper to shame.)
The next friend up was Joel Dommett. The first obvious things about Joel are that he is very tall, very handsome and very charming. Add in the fact that he bubbles over with enthusiasm in a way that suggests that he can’t quite physically contain it – think Bobcat Goldthwait in Police Academy, trapped in a Gant model’s body – and it is little surprise he’s already had a slot on Russell Howard’s Good News.
It’s also therefore not much of a surprise that the material is delivered in an engaging and fast way, working through the perils of cycling in London and being a smiley goth with gusto. It may not always be the most startlingly original material (although it certainly isn’t bad), but it certainly works.
Sticking with the theme of tall, handsome comedians – as Schneider pointed out, when did stand-ups start being good looking? – Cardinal Burns brought their sweetly awry sketches on stage. The running theme seems to be the familiar, done a bit weird, and they certainly know how to feed off each other’s energy – perfect for the cabaret tent.
What’s going to be really interesting is to see how their sketches – which really do feel perfectly shaped for such cabaret shows – will translate to the E4 sketch show they’ve been commissioned for. This isn’t to doubt they have the nouse to pull it off, as they’re clearly intelligent and seem happy to work for their laughs, but it would be surprising if the end result is the same as this show.
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