Laugh, Why Don't You? A Sketch Show By Fish Pie!

Mon 7th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Jacob Pagano

at 13:09 on 21st Aug 2017

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The trend in comedy in recent years has been towards stand-up improvisations and the kinds of conversations we see on late-night television. The sketch comedy envisioned in Monty Python and Fawlty Towers seems to have lost its heyday.

Yet, in 'Laugh Why Don’t You?' a sketch show written by Fish Pie, the language games and short skits pioneered by The Pythons have assumed an exciting and invigorating form. The show is noteworthy both for its sheer funniness and its willingness to move whimsically between jokes about double entedres and seemingly throw-away scenes. After an opening in which actor Sam Lamont pleads to his mother that he wants to “mine” out of the family and become a coal “miner,” we cut to a see in which Molly Stacey shamelessly asks Louisa Keight whether “We should get some cocaine?” Keight nods with a faux demonic quality. Both scenes were greeted with strong laughter.

The transitions between sketches were deft, with eclectic samplings of 70s and 80s music that kept us occupied and in a mood of anticipation. Other sketches included musings on a grandmother addicted to Pimms, a colony of hikers stranded in the Arctic, and a New York lawyer whose only fear is the newspaper game Sudoku. Only a few of the sketches fell flat: most created a steady chuckle, and others left me wondering in a pleasant confusion at the incredible absurdity of what I had just witnessed.

Like all good comedy, the show’s humor was so effective in part because it conveyed underlying tensions to which we all bear witness. In one scene in which a daughter is riding in the car with her parents, played by Millie Foy and Alex Harris, we see Molly Stacey (the daughter) sing a high-pitched, shouting-like opera in response to her parents’ inquires about whether she had closed the windows or remembered to walk the dog. Her parents seem oblivious to these outpourings, yet at sketch’s end Millie Foy reminds her of the importance of holding onto that internal “Ghostly medieval choir.”

The parents, like the show itself, know and understand far more than they let on. Through pointing out language’s absurdity and flexibility, and by creating sketch scenes that resemble Python bits with a modern sheen, 'Fish Pie' gives us plenty of reasons to laugh.

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Emily Lawford

at 13:44 on 21st Aug 2017

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‘Laugh, why don’t you?’ opens with a dance to get the audience in the mood for laughing. And it certainly worked, for this medley of sketches by the comedy group 'Fish Pie' is one of the funniest shows that I’ve seen at the Fringe.

The five actors – Millie Foy, Molly Stacey, Alex Harris, Louisa Keight and Sam Lamont – are all talented and versatile, and work together with admirable enthusiasm and chemistry. Impressively, no actor feels like the lead, as they all take star turns in different of the varied and bizarre scenes.

The comedic sketches, which could so easily fall flat, are perfectly timed and very creatively written – we open with a brilliant Millie Foy as a son coming out to his ballet-dancer father that he wishes to break with family tradition and be a miner – and then transition into a scene of four very posh Englishmen in the Antarctic arguing about who should have to sacrifice themselves by leaving the shelter. It’s funny, I promise.

Some of the scenes are two lines long; some take several minutes. They’re all equally absurd and equally hilarious and very cleverly written. Particular favourites of mine included Sam Lamont’s turn as the owner of Dyson vacuums and hand-dryers, driven mad by the losses of family members in freak accidents and determined to create the perfect machines that could have saved them. Alex Harris’s monologue as a man about to meet SexCat93, the online woman he has been chatting with, but who he worries is actually 93 years old, is also fantastic. I highly enjoyed the scene that took place in a business meeting debating how to make cinema 5D, and the one in which a helpless King Arthur is brought back to save England from economic crisis.

The characters all begin in various outfits, but quickly strip down to boiler suits, and this, the minimal set, and the music playing between each scene break gave the piece a sense of real energy. If you’re looking for biting satire about the present day, or moments of sentimentality and seriousness, you won’t find it here. But if you want to laugh, a lot, at a million different absurd ideas, ending with a song about the creation of the ant, then this collection of sketches by a very talented team is well worth the ticket.

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