Forty-Five Minutes of Non-Stop Joie de Vivre

Sat 6th – Sat 27th August 2016


Dominic Leonard

at 10:02 on 13th Aug 2016



A genuinely exciting new double-act is a rarity, and a joy to come across – ‘Forty-Five Minutes of Non-Stop Joie de Vivre’, the new show of Jack Bradfield and Fergus Macdonald (or ‘Vets Kill’), does exactly what it says on the tin, delivering exactly 45 minutes of stomach-ache-inducing laughter with skits, sketches and musical numbers.

The timing of the duo is so spectacular that one starts to wonder whether they are somehow being controlled by the same brain. The whole show has the effect of being surprised at itself, young cheekiness paired against a sense of fervent improvisation, but the synchronicity of the two shows the intense preparation a show like this must have taken.

It is obvious that the pair have known one another forever; their camaraderie on-stage seems to be something whittled down and refined over a long period of time. The sketches and songs themselves are unbelievably funny, including a love song from the point of view of an elf infatuated with a drunk, abusive Father Christmas, and an insight into Wordsworth’s creative writing process. From the very beginning, Bradfield and Macdonald have such a charming flare and were so attuned to the laughter in the room that they could work the audience perfectly. There was such excellent control that they were able to keep the entire room laughing for nearly 30 seconds of silence, or to cause an uproar of laughter with the tiniest gesture or noise.

The eclectic, quick nature of the pieces fits perfectly into a 45-minute slot, and couldn’t have kept riding its high for much longer without crashing. Referencing the length of the show in the title of the show goes to prove how intelligently it has been crafted – 45 minutes is indeed the perfect length, and the concision is one of the show’s strongest points.

‘Forty-Five Minutes…’ is a testament to the power of live comedy at the Fringe and is an utter, utter pleasure from beginning to end. Despite how surreal and irreverent the sketches are, the pair never descends into cheap laughs for the sake of pure silliness, always keeping one foot on the side of seriousness and consideration. Every minute fizzles with delight and brightness, and I could watch it over and over. This show is unquestionable comic genius; make sure you catch this while Vets Kill are playing small venues for free, because they certainly won’t be doing that for long.


Thomas Jordan

at 14:38 on 13th Aug 2016



Any show in which a song about sodomy can legitimately end with “Vote Hillary!” surely deserves praise. It almost feels as though the review should end here. The pasta ghost and face-licking speak for themselves. During the requisite three-quarters of an hour of comedy, the audience is allowed very little time to make a logical connection from one sentence to the next, let alone one scene to the next. This is exactly the point, and it’s brilliant.

Standing awkwardly on stage, with a wonderfully specky (and matching) shorts, shirt and tie combination, these loveable wierdos already look like they have got a winning comedic recipe. Their rapport with the audience is immediate and fresh; there is a sense that the audience has never really seen anything like this before. What proceeds is the most random collection of rapid snapshot scenes you could possibly imagine, almost always ending with the most astoundingly odd and hilariously incongruous one-liner you could imagine. One scene in which one receives a 99 flake from the other simply ends with “Dad, I’m gay!”, a phrase that recurs several times in similarly inappropriate situations. Recurrence and self-reference is used well. Returning skits such as ‘Important Moments In Our Life’ create a vague sense of continuity and familiarity in a show that could easily lose the audience in its own maze of unpredictability. More than forty-five minutes and the performers would get lost themselves.

But this is not based on immaturity. Clearly well-educated Oxford kids, the preposterous is cleverly mixed with the intellectual: angry letters to the Globe Theatre, and attempts to recite Wordsworth poetry whilst mid-sexual favour (the unashamedly homoerotic undertones are hilariously inexplicable) prevent the performance from descending into childishness. To perform such scenes requires a complete self-disregard for their own intense eccentrity. This lack of self-consciousness is vital for the wacky lyrics of their musical interludes on the ukulele and melodica. The highlight of the show is a song about an elf who loves his abusive Father Christmas, the chorus "You only hit us because you love us" belted out as though it is an emotional Coldplay chorus. On brief occasions, however, the comedy is so bizarre that one feels left out of an in-joke. This is unconditionally silly humour between young adult mates, and it would be difficult for a non-student audience to appreciate this on the same level.

Eccentric, witty, musical and sometimes genuinely satirical, this nicely packaged 'Forty-Five Minutes of Non-Stop Joie de Vivre' is exactly what it says. But weirder. In their own words, they are “a wholesome bowl of pasta”…


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