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Max and Ivan
Published on Sunday, 23 May 2010

I used to be on the writing team for a comedy show which involved one of the cast getting naked almost every month. The one thing we all knew was that you didn’t want to be the author of the sketch that came directly after the 'naked' sketch, because it would be completely lost as the audience composed themselves. Well, Max and Ivan also have a 'naked' sketch. It's very funny. And they also have a very cute way of dealing with the 5 minutes of shocked reaction that follows it.

Max and Ivan's sketch show is hugely inventive, makes good use of very few props and costumes and has two extremely talented stars. Some of the ideas the sketches are built on are quite flimsy: What if Spartacus sold out the slaves willing to claim to be him? What if The Super Mario Bros were characters in a gangster movie? What if some public school types tried to rap? But the performances are so fresh and lively that even the staler ideas feel as if they have been thoroughly Febrezed.

For example, a familiar comic staple, the ultra-middle class couple draped in Boden and fawning over their Aga and Le Creuset cookware, here is given a vicious twist with a symbiotic performance so grotesque it could sit happily in The League of Gentlemen.

Max and Ivan are both very different-looking, and that works well. Ivan is the small cuddly one who is very good at being baffled. Max is ridiculously tall and rangy and has an amazing face. (He's the one who gets naked – just sayin'.) I liked the fact that both performers had a solo moment, and particularly liked Max's American Conspiracy Theorist, who riffed off audience suggestions to tell us that Angelina Jolie was conducting experiments by collecting DNA for humans of various races (and later that the only time men had walked in the moon was to film 9/11).  It was a performance strong enough to have been a one-man show, and the fact that here it was just used for a single sketch demonstrates how much more solid material Max and Ivan have.

And they keep on coming. Thick and fast and funny. This is a perfect example of what an 'exactly what it says on the tin' sketch show ought to be: good ideas, great performances… just disengage your brain and laugh. I had a ball.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.