EFR - Reviews of I Am, I Am

I Am, I Am

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2012

reviews

Hannah Buckley

at 09:46 on 2nd Aug 2012

1agrees

0disagrees

Taking place in the small venue at the bottom of the Gilded Balloon Teviot, this is a comedy show that is well worth going to see. Harry Michell and Lowell Belfield are the definition of a comedy duo. They both have great charisma and work very well with each other. Michell is the cheeky chappy of the duo whereas Belfield is the seemingly quieter and cuter one: he certainly melted a few hearts in the audience with his voice, even when he was not singing about the loveliest of topics.

Yet before I talk about any more of the show, I have to mention the introduction. When Michell and Belfield walked on stage, the introductory act had the potential to be a hit or a miss with the audience, but it proved a success. The timings were perfect, and it helped set up for the hour of madness that was to come.

The show as a whole is fast-paced and constantly flowing. Their ‘half-way song’ came around very quickly for me, and I liked how they had identified what different members of the audience would be feeling and thinking at that point in time. The great response it got from the audience showed to that I was not alone in finding this funny.

Although there were a few dodgy jokes in the act, the silence they received from the audience just made them all the more funny, and the boys did well reacting to these moments and moving on in their performance. If there had to be a criticism to make of the show, I would say that it was easy to tell I was watching the preview of the act. It was not as polished as other shows I had seen that day, but because it flowed so well from beginning to end and their mistakes became the jokes of the show, it did not really matter. In fact, the unpolished nature of the show fitted in with the comedy. They were there to make people laugh, and they certainly succeeded in doing this.

The boys’ talent for song-writing and comedy is obvious when you watch the show, and one thing I really want to commend them for is their audience participation. Because the venue was so small and the audience were so close to the stage, they could not avoid interacting with us without making the show static and awkward. They did well to constantly draw upon the audience throughout the show, escaping this problem. Whether this was to sing a song about loving 'platonically' to an unsuspecting member of the audience, or making a song up there and then about another, it was all very cleverly accomplished and had a brilliant response.

All in all, Michell and Belfield are a great act to go and end (or start!) the night with. The boys are so very talented and witty, and with each song topic being so different and so wacky you can’t help but to have a smile on your face from the beginning to the end. This is a show that is well worth the money and is guaranteed to give you an hour of brilliant entertainment.

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Yara Rodrigues Fowler

at 09:48 on 2nd Aug 2012

3agrees

0disagrees

“I’m adorable,” Lowell Belfield announces to the audience. And it’s true. The Cambridge Footlights duo work the nerdy, cute and self-deprecating vibe with comic success - and not without originality: their set includes guitars, a drum and an impressive bit of rhyming improv. If you enjoy the silly and subtle (and often silly and not-so-subtle), then Belfield and Michell will leave you in hysterics, as they did me and most of their preview audience.

What differentiates ‘I am, I am’ from many Fringe shows is Michell and Belfield’s comic partnership. Not simply because you get two comedians for the price of one: by creating an on-stage dynamic they temper their song-based humour with deliciously self-conscious “conversation”, teasing and the odd moment of self-analysis, such as, “we’ll leave that out tomorrow” or “Lowell made me do it”. Rather than embarrassing the audience, this gives relief to the necessarily scripted parts of the routine, whilst lending to the already smallish room at the Gilded Balloon a tight and comfortable proximity between performers and audience.

Their jokes are both subtle and unsubtle because they are clever; that two slightly lanky and awkward-looking red-headed males should create comedy around their lack of success with women is hardly unexpected, but to combine with this a certain meanness (often directed at each other) and happy emasculation, requires some nuance of execution, writing and teamwork. It is hard to describe without ruining any of their punchlines - and they are certainly worth not ruining - so suffice to say you should expect confessional, sexual, topical and popular themes, very few clichés and lots of puns, delivered at times quietly and violently, lyrically and spontaneously.

The most impressive five minutes came towards the end of the hour when Michell took it upon himself to use the response of an audience member to compose the lyrics of a short love-song. Despite a difficult bit of audience participation consisting entirely of the drunken promotion of another production, Michell continued and was able to deliver the most stunning rhyming pun of the night. Each of their 27 performances should therefore be slightly unpredictable and unique; go along, and a love song based upon your name may be composed on the spot by the charming duo - surely this is reason enough.

The show is not, however, without its faults. Although the prevalence is for strong and creative comedy, their routine does include some less surprising and comically worn material; a few of their jokes elicited no laughter. These moments were nevertheless well dealt with, as Michell and Belfield were able, if somewhat nervously, to acknowledge them on stage, and I expect that - together with the occasional forgotten lyric - the weaker parts of “I am, I am” will be ironed out as the Fringe continues.

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