Tag Archives: sketch

Punchline recommends: Max & Ivan – Our Story

5 Aug

Photograph of Max and IvanWords by Iain McLaren

Come one, come all and hear the tale of how our heroes met all those many years ago. Max and Ivan deliver an hour of perfect storytelling and comedic genius, with a bit of improv thrown in for good measure. Taking us back to their very early years at wrestling school and scout jamboree, we discover how these two incredibly funny guys happened to meet and eventually form the awesome sketch group they are today. But it isn’t all plain sailing as they face their own challenges to be the best wrestlers and scouts they can be. There is pain, sweat, shouting, laughing and all other manner of ridiculousness that we have come to expect from this high energy pair. Is this their last show?! Probably not, but still I wouldn’t take the chance, go and see them NOW!

Catch Max & Ivan at 8.20pm the Pleasance Dome throughout August. Click here for more information and tickets

Punchline Recommends BEASTS: Live DVD

9 Aug

photograph of Beasts

Words by Suzy Romer

Beasts by name and beasts by nature, these boys are THE FRINGE in a box. Goodness only knows how they have managed to take their silliness and mayhem up a level since last year. I went into this show with high expectations of rampant nonsense and was lulled into the false security of sense by their rational sounding introduction. The lads want to film a DVD for a Hollywood producer and they ask for a bit of co-operation from the audience. So far, so good.

But then things start to go wrong. Or is it right? The audience becomes more involved in the project and our inhibitions gradually evaporate to allow us to whoop and cheer as much as our hearts desire. We are ON FIRE. Why? Perhaps because Owen tries so hard to maintain a modicum of decorum while James dreams of falconry and Ciaran just wants to… run around naked, really. Witnessing massive arguments has never been so much fun, and they are very rude but somehow it doesn’t matter because they are just so NICE. The musical content is so absurd and moving it will leave you as high as Mary Poppins after the wind changes direction.

This show is what people should mean when they say “legal high”. Don’t do drugs kids; do Beasts.

You can see Beasts in the Pleasance Courtyard at 16:45 throughout August.

Punchline Recommends: Beasts – Solo

31 Jul


Words by Suzy Romer

High-octane isn’t normally an expression used to describe a comedy sketch show but this year’s Beasts is a real adrenaline rush of wild things. It’s got sex, it’s got violence, and it’s got magic which is as good and bad as it gets. Directed by Tom Parry from Pappy’s, you can feel the energy, whimsy and good will that he brings to the production, but these guys are forging ahead with a style of their own.

The show is built upon my favourite sketch scenario of simmering tensions, rivalry and grumpiness between the performers. They begin with a sketch so simple it is like a melody picked out on the piano with one hand. The show gradually develops to symphonic effect and really, it’s unbelievable that three men can fill this compact performing space with such grandiose daftness. You find yourself sucked into their world of ambition, nostalgia and lightly bruised egos as they jostle for the position of top dog. There’s more than one surprise along the way; prepare to squawk.

This was one hell of a show to start my Fringe and I’m tempted to see it again as a finale. There’s nothing fledgling about this group. This is sketch comedy as it’s supposed to be and it brought the house down.

Catch Beasts – Solo at 4.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August. Buy tickets here

Photograph of BEASTS

Director Tom Parry with BEASTS: James McNicholas, Owen Roberts, and Ciarán Dowd

Hennessy & Friends: An Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Interview

20 Jul

Words By Susan Fordhennessy

After a short one year break, Hennessy and Friends are back for this year’s Fringe, and we’re delighted! Taking a gamble on a free show has never been easier – go and see Hennessy and Friends and you won’t be disappointed.  I caught up with Miranda, Dave and Steve to discuss this year’s Festival.

Hello Hennessy & Friends, how are you?
Dave: Very well thanks apart from the slow release panic attack I’m currently having in the lead up to Edinburgh.
Miranda: Man up Dave! We’re fine thank you – how are you?

Can you please introduce yourselves to our readers?
Dave: We are Miranda Hennessy, David Seymour and Steven Shapland: and together we are Hennessy & Friends- A 3 piece sketch group who do sketches and that.

Can you tell me a bit more about your act?
Dave: We peddle our delightfully screwy, slightly macabre brand of sketch nonsense on stage for you to watch with your eyes.

Are you excited about this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Dave: Very excited, It’s getting very close now… I can smell it and it’s all a bit damp.
Miranda: I think it’s going to be a good one! Hopefully this second time round we’ll be able to relax a bit more and enjoy it!

Without giving too much away, what is your show about?
Dave: The usual sketch bullshit… set to a backdrop of our continuing in-fighting, petty squabbles and Steve’s untimely death.
Steve: What?
Miranda: Oh you gave the ending away, not even Steve knew that. I’m not sure I’d refer to our carefully crafted show as ‘sketch bullshit’… It’s definitely not about Fleetwood Mac though. Nor is it a reproduction in whole or part of any songs or recordings by said band or any of its members past or present.
Steve: What’s that about my death?

You took a break from the Fringe last year, what made you decide to come back?
Steve: They made me
Miranda: We took a break for a few reasons – we all had other individual things going on. Plus, Steve had a baby so he was pretty tied up doing that. Dave and I got a dog … We weren’t going to come this year either but we missed it and had lots of new ideas that we wanted to try out so we decided at the last minute to go. And have only regretted it a few times since.

What are the best things about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Dave: It’s a whirlwind of a month driven by laughs, alcohol and fast food, that’s the other reason we’re back.
Miranda: Performing every day, seeing lots of other shows and hanging out with your mates. It’s a bit like Uni…
Steve: Getting to spend a whole month with my two only friends, cook for them, clean for them, all the good stuff.

Have you been doing many previews for the Festival, and how have they been going?
Dave: We’ve been doing a few, We’re wary of doing too many, but I think they’ve been going ok… We’ve still got quite a bit of new stuff to put in, we’ve got two left…
Steve: Yeah, we did one where we spilt blood and doughnuts everywhere and got told off by the management.

Other than previews, how do you prepare for a month in Edinburgh at the Festival?
Dave: I’m trying to lose a bit of weight before I go, so I don’t come back dangerously overweight, just enough for people to notice and comment on it behind my back.
Miranda: I’m going to try and not drink for a week beforehand.

Steve: Start adjusting my body clock to ‘Night Mode’ and practice living on no money…

What other shows do you recommend during the Fringe?
Dave: Definitely looking forward to seeing Clever Peter, David Elms’ show is looking great… and Adam Riches’ new show has got to be a must see, we gigged with him recently and some of the new material was utterly brilliant! Loads of others too, just can’t think of them off the top of my head.

Miranda: Definitely Clever Peter and Adam Riches.

Steve: The Steve and Dave show, but don’t tell Miranda…

Miranda: I’m right here.

Dave: Idiot.

Catch Hennessy & Friends show ‘Murmurs‘ at Venue 32 on the Cowgate at 7.30pm.


Edinburgh Festival 2013 Preview: Max and Ivan

1 Aug

Words by Hannah Clapham-Clark

We often hope that double acts find love at first sight! How did you two first meet, what were your first impressions of each other and how did the idea of a having comedy act develop?

How does one come to the conclusion that the only possible way forward in life is to form a comedy double act? It’s probably the mutual loathing of “having a real job”, though I’d like to think a shared comedic sensibility was also a decisive factor.

Narrative sketch shows are still quite unusual, have you always gone for this style of comedy? What drew you to this approach?

We’ve dabbled in all sorts. Sketch, narrative, improv, fleeting and rare bits of solo stand-up and compering, not to mention Ivan’s three years touring a one-man minstrel show (highly disturbing, and completely unacceptable). But our current mode of performing – blending sketches and theatricality, with a beautifully interwoven narrative, and a vast array of dick jokes – has naturally evolved over the years.

The Fringe is fairly dominated by stand-ups, how is it working in a double act, is there a secret to it working successfully? Are there any main dis/advantages?

We presumed that as there are two of us, we’d get paid double. This really is not the case…

What is the process of writing a show which has a clear storyline? Where do the ideas for your characters and their distinct personas come from?

Our current show, The Reunion, is based on a 10 year school reunion. Now, we’re not saying that we’ve based a lot of the characters on old school friends, but if you happen to have gone to either Birkenhead Boys School or Priory School, then you might recognise some (all) the names.

How important is the Fringe and have there been any particular high/lowlights over the past few years?

M: The fringe is an all-consuming megalithic behemoth that drains you of every ounce of joy, energy and strength you have ever possessed. However, we love it dearly.

I: We once found a human shit outside our venue. That was pretty distressing.

This year you’re bringing wrestling back to the Fringe! What were your experiences of this from 2011 and what can we expect this time around? Did you predict such a positive response? And is there a secret skill Ivan has which could lead to its own show?

M: Other than shattering my ankle into a thousand tiny fragments (great work, my ankle) my experiences from 2011 were utterly magnificent. This time around, without giving too much away, you can expect an all-new roster of wrestling comedians, a comedian going one-on-one with a wrestler for the first time, and –

I: We’ve said too much. Come to the show. And, in the mean time, check out the steady torrent of videos we’ll be releasing in the run-up to the show. As Malcolm X once said, “shit’s going to get cray”.

It seems like the last few months have been pretty exciting with visits to Australia and SXSW, could you talk a bit about your time at these festivals? Has it differed to playing in the UK?

It’s been AMAZING! SXSW was a wonderful 72 hours of jet-lagged comedy, tacos, and awesome american comedians. And the Melbourne International Comedy Festival was better than we could have dreamed of – Australian’s were actually happy to be flyered, imagine that!

This year’s show is The Reunion, can you tell us a little bit about the story and what it’s been like to work with Tom Parry (from Pappy’s)? How have previews been going?

The Reunion is basically a love story, but it’s still funny… we’ve basically established a new genre that mixes romance and comedy, or ‘romedy’ if you wish. We’re hoping it catches on.

Speaking of love, Tom has been a brilliant director – we were a bit worried to step away from the wonderful Jessica Ransom (who directed our past two shows), but as she was busy filming until July we had to get someone new.

M:The first thing that happened under the Parry regime was to triple the amount of previews we had booked, which was dreadful and invigorating in equal measures.

Finally, if you could pick a dream third member, who would it be and why?

Tom (Parry) has often jumped into scenes during rehearsals, which has been fun – but we really don’t feel there’s much future in three-man sketch comedy. We heavily doubt it’d work.

Make sure to see Max and Ivan’s new show, The Reunion, at the Queen Dome, 8:20 through the Fringe.

Edinburgh Festival 2013 Preview: an interview with The Pin

3 Jun


By Hannah Clapham-Clark

The Pin are a sketch double act tipped for great things in the future. Smart and funny in equal measure, their shows are sophisticated, witty and impressively complex. Make sure to catch their next Edinburgh Fringe show this August. Here they are being funny –

How did the two of you first meet and what were your first impressions of each other?

Alex: We met at University.

Ben: I first spotted Alex in an alley, and I wasn’t much impressed.

How did your comedy first develop and how has it changed since then?

Alex: We got stuck into student comedy with a big six man sketch show a few years ago and just kept going. Since then our style hasn’t changed drastically. We’ve got to know each other better so perhaps it’s a bit more loose on stage, with room for changing things on stage as we go. A bit more in unison I suppose.

Ben: I don’t really agree with that.

If you could describe The Pin in three words what would they be?

Alex: Silly Fun Friends.

Ben: Spot on mate.

Are there any specific sketch groups which have influenced your work? If so, who and why?

Alex: Big Train on TV was great. ‘Cowards’ is a group that really set the bar and I think they had a big influence on our writing style, particularly when we started out and were trying things out.

Ben: Later on ‘The Pajama Men’ with their fast-paced propless act definitely made us experiment along those lines.

Alex: We love ‘Sheeps’ too.

Ben: Oh yeah.

Last year’s Fringe was a big success for you, what were the high/low points? 

Alex: High points include going, on day one, to Red Box, a noodle bar near the Dome. Low point is realising in week two that you need the MSG to stay sane.

Ben: I think I spotted Matt Lucas in the audience once. (High) It wasn’t him. (Low)

Can you tell us a little but about the new show this year?

Alex: Most notably we’ve gone from three to two.

Ben: So now it’s more about us as a double act, rather than a trio. Less narrative and more about our relationship.

There’s a lot of nice things being said about The Pin at the moment, do you ever feel any pressure to get it right because of this?

Alex: Are there? Well that’s lovely. I suppose we never want to disappoint.

Ben: Can I just clarify, I said ‘an alley’: it was a backstreet, and there were other people there.

Where do you see The Pin in five years’ time?

Alex: We’d love to film some of our sketches and see if people like it. But performing live is the real deal so we’re hoping that sketch comedy keeps growing in the way stand-up has.

Ben: So long as I’m with this guy, I’ll be alright. Also, I realise that ‘backstreet’ doesn’t sound any better.

What would your advice be for young sketch comics wanting to get established?

Alex: We find the practice of discarding material as ruthlessly and often as possible helps in the long run. If you keep trying to write better stuff to replace what you’ve currently got in place you tend to end up doing alright on the night.

Ben: Go with you gut. For god’s sake don’t get that ripped out by some ‘ambitious’ surgeon.

Finally, if you could be any other comic dead or alive, who would you be and why?

Ben: I’d definitely go for an alive one. Probably Alex; I already know his lines. Or Freddy Frother- the man’s a genius.

Alex: Freddy Frother isn’t real Ben.

Ben: I know, the guy’s talent is unreal.

Alex: Forget it then.

The Pin will be performing at The Pleasance Courtyard at 6.15pm, 31st July – 26th August. Find out more at http://www.pleasance.co.uk/edinburgh/events/the-pin–3 and Twitter at @thepincomedy

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