I am, I am

Fri 1st – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Jessica McKay

at 09:42 on 17th Aug 2014

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Lowell Belfield and Harry Michell proved themselves to be comic geniuses and musical virtuosos in their performance of I am, I am at The Golden Balloon Teviot. Blending sophisticated puns, self-deprecating digs and witty banter with some stellar guitar-playing, the duo whipped its audience into a giggling, guffawing frenzy.

The show got off to a somewhat shaky start; Belfield and Michell’s comedy is of the boyish, slightly cringe-worthy variety and it took the audience a short while to adjust. During the first song it felt as if we were laughing more out of politeness than genuine amusement. Thankfully, that awkwardness quickly evaporated.

The Cambridge Footlights alumni riffed about everything from sexism to sleep, but stayed close to their favourite topic: their woeful love lives. The unlucky-in-lust pair could be two extra members of The Inbetweeners gang, yet are infinitely funnier and refreshingly un-sexist.

The highlight of the performance was ‘London Underground’, a mishmash of sexual innuendo and clever transport puns that had the audience in fits. Harry and Lowell’s sarcastic ‘Love Letter to Parents’ was also riotously funny: the sort of hard-hitting yet hilarious observation comedy that makes you squirm and giggle simultaneously.

Another delightful aspect of the show was the duo’s ability to engage with their audience. Harry especially had no qualms about bantering with female audience members or calling one male heckler a ‘facetious twat’. Harry also showed off his impressive improvisational skills during the hour-long performance. He picked an audience member at random and instantly produced a fully rhyming, coherent song: no mean feat, considering the girl’s name was Eileesh!

While these attempts to break the fourth wall worked quite well, the pair’s ditty ‘Thirty Minutes Left of the Show’ was less successful. Self-reference is fine, but this overt ‘chunk’ of it just seemed clunky and obtrusive. It worked much better when Harry and Lowell wove their self-effacing comments into existing songs and interludes.

I am, I am, is definitely worth a watch. If you can bear a few moments of awkwardness you’ll be rewarded with fifty minutes of laugh-out-loud comedy gold. Just copy Harry and Lowell’s example; grab a beer before the show begins, let your inhibitions and misconceptions melt away, and have a bloody brilliant time.

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Rowena Henley

at 10:04 on 17th Aug 2014

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It is the last week of the festival, meaning that the risk of comedy acts becoming over-rehearsed and somewhat stale is a very real one. For Cambridge comedy duo I am, I am, however, this pitfall was effortlessly avoided. Lowell Belfield and Harry Michell showed they had the one ingredient to ensure comic success: spontaneity. And on top of that there was also charm, wit and musical talent. It is no surprise that the Gilded Balloon Teviot was packed out (and bloody boiling) on Saturday 16th August.

I admit, I was skeptical at first. The boys’ opening was, for me, the weakest moment of the show. Pre-recorded voice-overs played as Lowell and Harry placed microphones to their own heads and the heads of audience members, revealing the hilarious goings-on of their minds. It went down well and, sure, it was quite funny at first, but the concept felt contrived and I was worried the whole show would be the same. After a short while, the duo sat down with their guitars. Again, skepticism crept in: musical comedy? This was dangerous (and well trodden) ground.

After their first song, however, I completely was sold. The boys’ perceptiveness was astounding. They had that enviable ability to make you think “oh yeah, I do that all the time” or “oh god that’s exactly what it’s like”. For me, no more so than in the Parenthood song. The boys have shrewdly, and hysterically, observed how our generation feels they pay off the debt of a parent’s unrelentingly protection and love by simply helping them out with a few computer-related issues. I was immediately reminded of the moment before travelling up to Edinburgh when I, slightly smugly, helped mum upload holiday photos onto her iPad.

Despite the fact that Lowell and Harry have undoubtedly played these songs a hundred times, each one felt fresh and appealed directly to the audience. The boys even picked out a girl who hadn’t managed to get a seat and told her to come and sit onstage, interacting with her ingeniously (even though she turned out to be an incredibly bad sport). Perhaps most impressive of all, Harry actually created a song on the spot using three interesting facts given from an girl sitting in the back row. It was no mean feat, considering he had to find words that rhymed with her name: Eileesh.

I am, I am unassumingly stand at the forefront of modern humour. They are observational, candid and occasionally downright ruthless. The boys are set to have a successful future in comedy, so make sure you see them now.

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