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Inglorious Stereo
Published on Friday, 13 August 2010

5 stars

Fringe at Le Monde (venue website)
5-15 Aug, 4:15pm (5:15pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

Paul Putner and Glen Richardson's Inglorious Stereo is my find of the Fringe so far, an impossibly silly delight that I can't recommend highly enough.  How did I come across it?  They were the closing act of an already-pretty-strong lineup at the launch event for Fringe at Le Monde, on George Street, aka the Five Pound Fringe, and they brought the house down.  I was so keen to get along to this on that initial evidence that I accidentally factored it into my programme twice.

You may have seen Paul Putner on the likes of Little Britain, and you probably haven't seen Glen Richardson in anything, but together in stereo they combine for an hour of achingly hilarious comedy that had me giddy with laughter.

It's difficult to say what I liked about their sketches without simply recounting each one.  Richardson is often to be found behind the keyboard for high-concept musical sketches – such as the unemployed film composer who takes up scoring incidental music for the humdrum activities of office workers – and Putner adds a little oomph to the vocals, including a knee-slapping variation of Bernard Cribbins' Right Said Fred as sung about the Kray Twins and their London gangster shenanigans.  But it's not all musical: there's a lot of wordplay, including an homage to the Two Ronnies classic 'four candles' sketch with a contemporary twist; some physical comedy; in fact, the show runs the whole gamut.

Putner and Richardson also showcase some well-developed characters in various routines, and they save the best of these to last.  Putner's hapless stand-up comedian Frankie Tan (catchphrase: 'Can I be Frank with you?') performs a hopelessly brilliant set, taking off 1970s comics in general and, I think, Les Dawson in particular.  He also manages to satirise the new style of modern stand-up, and his attempt at 'observational comedy' moves from banal inanities to somewhere pretty dark in short order.  We're then joined by soul preacher Reverend 2-Tone, basically Richardson with a ginger wig and a reggae beat.  I don't think I can tell you anything about the Reverend's sermon without spoiling it, so suffice to say I thought the end days had come, I was laughing so hard.

If I was forced to provide a counterpoint for balance, I might concede that the Avid Illiams character was on for a bit too long; but there are bound to be peaks and troughs in any show, and even the low points here are pretty far up the scale.

There is just no excuse not to see this show; and better still that it's on the Five Pound Fringe, a great innovation and a welcome addition to the Fringe line-up.  If anybody mentions the afternoon timeslot, leave work early if you have to, you won't regret it.  Musically based and comically inspired, Inglorious Stereo is a surround-sound experience – you'll be surrounded by the sound of laughter.  Don't miss it.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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