EFR - Reviews of Best Boy

Best Boy

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Alice Harper

at 08:55 on 20th Aug 2016

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Sketch comedy duo 'Best Boy' offer a high speed show full of short sketches, improv and banter. Sadly, most of it fails to hit the mark. Both comics deliver their lines well and the show does not drag in terms of the performance, but the material is patchy and does not always achieve its desired effect.

Some of the sketches are based on good ideas which then do not really go anywhere, or seem to be cut off just as they are getting off the ground. The structure of the show is choppy and seems fairly random; the duo switch from talking to the audience to a flurry of sketches and back again, and while this keeps the show moving it can also be confusing in places. Running jokes, like the one about the various brand sponsors they are contracted to, do give the show some continuity and are funny. These moments, and a few other jokes, create big laughs but they are few and far between.

The little audience participation included in the show does not completely work. The people chosen do not seem comfortable in their various roles, which is only natural, but in this particular show the professional performers don’t do much to put them at their ease. This makes for a slightly awkward atmosphere in which a member of the audience stands on stage while the comedians fail to generate much humour from their presence. Once asked to participate, the audience member is also not given much to do and as a result end up not adding much to the show.

Some of the darker sketches and jokes, while heading in the right direction, don't quite succeed in selling their black comedy and end up just feeling quite depressing. The sketch about a singer with a failing career and a terminal illness is especially sad, with the character merely coming across as pitiful rather than funny. Swaying and singing badly, pint glass in hand, he gains the audience’s sympathy but not their laughter. One of the more controversial jokes, about a man lying about having accidentally run his children over in order to blag a free taxi ride, also falls flat and simply leaves a vaguely uncomfortable atmosphere behind.

A few well observed jokes and some clever ad libbing prevent this show from being a disaster, but overall it is underwhelming and feels rather forced. It is certainly not a lost cause; 'Best Boy' do have the ability to write good jokes, but this show does not demonstrate that as well as it probably could do.

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Anna Livesey

at 11:40 on 20th Aug 2016

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It is difficult to move in Edinburgh without being invited to some “five-star sketch comedy”, and not least at the Underbelly. So it was always going to be difficult for ‘Best Boy’ to stand out from the crowd, and sell their two-man show as something special. Unfortunately, they have not quite risen to the task, and what they offer in an hour is more five-laugh than five-star comedy.

The main problem with this show is that its jokes are cliché. We have all heard gags about cancer, or car accident victims, or being dumped, and ‘Best Boy’ cannot add anything original to this repertoire. Weirder gags work better: a sketch with everybody’s favourite 90s toy, BopIt, has the same darkness as these other moments, and yet manages to take it somewhere new. But this quirkiness teeters at times on the brink of nonsense. I could not make head nor tale of an opening joke about crab fishermen and, as the silence around me seemed to suggest, neither could those around me.

Some of the show’s major gags simply fall flat. I struggled to be amused by an extended magic trick, which, placed at the centre of the show and then gestured to throughout, was clearly intended to be its crowning glory. Similarly, the effort demanded to rouse an audience for a collective hymn is disproportionate to the reaction it warrents, and a closing gag requiring heavy audience participation becomes a little laboured. The comedy here came more from one audience member’s shoddy attempts to whinny like a horse, than from the efforts of the show itself.

On the other hand, shorter and simpler sketches were executed to perfection. Though the card trick failed to impress, I did enjoy a rendition of Motorhead’s classic ‘The Five of Spades’, that was slipped in seamlessly into the moment. A sketch following a “weirdly thin sword”, or rather, the invention of Acupuncture, and a joke about “what stays in Vegas”, are others that might easily be missed, but which become ‘Best Boy’’s strongest offerings.

This is not a show devoid of promise. I gave my fair share of laughs, and enjoyed bits of wordplay particularly. The show has a great energy and exuberance, and it does deserve recognition for that, but it needs refinement to distinguish itself from the dozens of competing shows at the Underbelly.

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