August 16-19, 21-24 (19:00)
Material: Delivery: Laughs: Room:
Watching hundreds of hours of new comedy a year, there is nothing quite as pleasurable as discovering unpolished, glittering little nuggets of raw talent. This evening, panning in the Yukon-esque wilds of The Southsider, I found 2 such rarefied wee chunks of the golden stuff. I’ve not had as much time as during previous Fringe’s to check out acts performing in the now oft neglected PBH Free Fringe. In its heyday I would greedily snap up and consume their program as soon as it was released, scouring it for peculiar novelty clowning acts, club scene regulars looking for their big break, or former seasoned professionals delivering a swansong performance, somewhere in a pub off The Royal Mile at 1AM So it was with a genuine sense of excitement that I cycled up to The Southsider, to grab a cheap pint and a ‘free’ show. This was in essence a classic 2-hander, a pair of gigging mates teaming up to head North and try out their material on the hordes of arts fans and tourists that engulf The Athens of the North in August. Though unlike almost every other 2-hander I’ve watched, they took to the stage together, beginning as a double act. Here, as at the end of the show and during the highly entertaining middle section, they showed off their comedy personas with bravado.
Flood greets us first, embodying a confident Low Status performer. If that sounds oxymoronic, well, that’s the point. Low status is notoriously difficult to get right. But throughout the evening he delivered assured snippets of impressions, songs, and anecdotes deeply reminiscent of Ricky Gervais performing as Andy Millman in ‘When the Whistle Blows’. Except funny, very very funny. A section covering well-trodden ground of ‘accents being misunderstood by machines’ was elevated by his commitment to the vocal gymnastics required to convey an impenetrable Midlands accent , whilst an impression of Stoke’s own wannabe Tom Cruise in Cocktail, generated so much laughter from Floods rubber faced buffoonery that he let it continue, hypnotically, for a full 20 seconds longer than he real ought to have had any right to. “I’ll just do this bit all night shall I?” he asked the crowd. The cheer they threw up created the perfect punchline for him to close the section on. It was a shame then that not all of his set landed as successfully as this. His material delivered ‘as self’ felt a little lacking in the absence of the facial comedy masterclass that we had already been served.. A well crafted, but stoically delivered, 3 minutes about being grown up enough to buy a cast iron sieve, and cocaine, fell to light titters. They wanted more of the Goon.
Blake on the other hand came jumping out onto the stage in a faux fur pimp jacket, effortlessly channeling a squawky, confident, ‘Cat’ from Red Dwarf. His set was the polar opposite of Floods, some very neatly observed, and original, material relating to his mixed heritage swam in daring territory. If you’ve ever wondered why people with mixed heritage ‘aren’t into BDSM’, Blake will duly educate you. You see he used to be a teacher, and his tales of experiencing racial prejudice from Vietnamese kids named Captain America were both boundary pushing, and highly original. Here though was the fly in Blake’s ointment, his delivery was a little too teachery. The initial bombast of his stage entrance gone once he kicked into his practiced routine. The crowd seemed unsure how to take some of the changes of direction, but the wonderful banter, and anarchic spirit, present in their performances when double teaming, weren’t quite there when they got into the scripted stuff. Both performers fed exceptionally well off the positive energies from the audience, but didn’t always seem quite sure how to switch the pace when sections didn’t land as well.
Those tag team moments though, well what a treat. They oversaw a mid-show auction, with a gag at its heart of beautiful simplicity, in which they again demonstrated an assured command of just how long to milk an audience response. Their closing song pleasantly portentous, as Blake clowned around playing a triangle, manic grin plastered on his face and Flood, bashing away at his guitar and gurning like the kid from This is England, on Ecstasy, blasted out “For now we’re just Adam and Blake, but you might see us on TV someday”.
“Yeah” I thought to myself “ I think we probably will”
Give them another few years to craft their individual performances and hone the exceptionally wide variety of talents on display, or better still, go the whole hog and perform exclusively as a double act, and this pair will polish up nicely into 24 Carat Fringe regulars.