Dirty White Boys: Stupid

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Jessica Lord

at 13:15 on 13th Aug 2017

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A sweaty and stale stench greeted us on our arrival into the venue for this performance. The air was thick and muggy, and everything seemed a little hazy. The preshow song was promising, and indicated that a sharp witted, well written, rhythmic show lay ahead. Yet this was not the case, as ‘Dirty White Boys’, repeatedly missed the mark.

An eclectic collection of sketches, it’s a classic fringe structure, and is a great way to exhibit fresh writing, test ideas, and rake in the laughs. Although there were snatches of hope in this performance, some of the sketches, in my opinion, damaged any chance of a well rounded performance.

There were some highlights. The sketch about Harry Potter and Hagrid was fantastic, as was the contrast between the discovery of Penicillin and the creation of sliced bread. But some sketches left a bad taste in the mouth, one involving an actor crudely, and in a very sexual way, licking out a baguette, for example. It wasn’t funny and was very uncomfortable to watch, as was a sketch in which we were treated to the spectacle of an actor regurgitating his ‘medium well’ chicken.

It was such a shame because fundamentally, both Jack Robertson and Chazz Redhead are impressive comics, fantastic actors, and great impersonators. Their imitation of Alan Rickman as Professor Snape was absolutely sublime, and the attention they paid to the creation of every character in every sketch is commendable. The switch from a couple of builders to Harry Potter/Hagrid, is a pretty drastic one, and yet, is executed well.

I also really struggled with the sketch about a Nazi purge of all German clowns, it was tasteless and the audience member who was pulled onto stage looked uncomfortable and a little confused. It’s a big challenge to make this area of history comedic, and it just did not work.

'Dirty White Boys' is a comedy show, and yet, laughter wasn’t something that was constant in this dingy, musty room - it was occasional and light. And it didn’t need to be, because Robertson and Redhead proved their natural theatrical ability very early on, they just needed a stronger concept and better writing behind them to do them justice as actors and comedians.

But if you want to see phallic, grotesque, and occasionally funny sketches, then go and see 'Dirty White Boys', but be prepared to see a man get weird with some bread.

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Elena Casale

at 19:11 on 13th Aug 2017

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The venue: stuffy cavern. The smell: sweat and vinegar. The act: disappointing. Jack Robertson and Chazz Redhead are two sketch performers and improvisers from Birmingham, and together they form ‘Dirty White Boys’. The ‘message’ of the show, as Robertson informs us in the finale, is that ‘you just gotta let the stupid out once in a while’. Unfortunately, there’s funny stupid, and then there’s uncomfortable stupid: the show was a mix of both.

My hopes were high after an entertaining pre-show song and a punchy initial sketch where an ‘audience’ member’ began to confront an ‘actor’ on stage. But the sketch ended somewhat clumsily (‘back then we were… dirty white boys!’) and it was rough sailing from then on. Some sketches were funny but dragged out, including a builders sketch and a restaurant scene where the moment that the client askes for his chicken ‘medium-rare’, which is repeated several times.

Another was tediously predictable: walking back from a date, a woman asks first to borrow a jumper, then shoes, then wallet of her date, and we’ve already guessed she’s trying to rob him from then, but it goes on well past the moment of realisation.

Occasionally, sketches were only funny because they were shocking or disgusting: one has a man viciously and realistically performs oral sex on a baguette, another includes a restaurant scene where we see a character regurgitate his meal.

Personally, I found it hard to stomach some of the more problematic scenes, such as an implicit mockery of gender fluidity in one of the initial sketches, and by the time it got to a scene where a Nazi was trying to exterminate all clowns from Germany, it had gone too far. This reliance on shock tactics really undersold what I believe was a genuine capacity for original humorous content.

This was illustrated in flash moments of hilarity, such as the Harry Potter sketch, delivered with supreme comic timing and energy from Robertson. Another was the Alan Rickman sketch, where both Redhead and Robertson played Alan Rickman playing a sketch – this was expertly put-together and really accentuated their comedic abilities. Interestingly, I felt that Robertson and Redhead’s best material wasn’t predominately in the intended joke of each sketch, but rather in some of the more tangential elements.

The acting far surpassed the script. Robertson and Redhead both demonstrated a natural dexterity as they took on a plethora of very different parts. Redhead’s impersonations, ranging from a builder to a snobbish actor were particularly impressive, and in parts where the script excelled the production was seamless. I see a lot of potential for ‘Dirty White Boys’.

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