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Double Down Hearts
Written by Craig Thomson   
Published on Thursday, 21 August 2008

Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler are nominees for the 2008 if.comedy award.

THERE ARE WORDS WHICH FEEL TIRED and over-used when employed to describe certain things, but in this case the term ‘quirky’ fits the bill exactly.  Kristen Schaal is still most familiar to British audiences as the sole fan and groupie in HBO series Flight of the Conchords, while her Fringe co-star Kurt Braunohler is likely to be completely unknown.  Both are veterans of the New York comedy scene, however, and bring their long-standing professional collaboration to Edinburgh.

This is not really stand-up comedy, as we know it; nor is it a sketch show, nor a comic play, but Schaal and Braunohler masterfully weave elements of all three together and infuse the result with their own personal style of insanity.  The show takes its name from a play the duo have written, Double Down Hearts, left languishing in development hell after being shunned by the Broadway arts elite.  They perform scenes from their masterpiece (which runs, Memento-style, in reverse) intermittently throughout the evening.  It provides a handy way to structure the show, allowing them to neatly extricate themselves from routines which have run their course.

They also play several short video segments - a device that has been slightly over-used by stage comedians this year, I think.  Nevertheless, their pre-recorded skits are so bizarrely funny that I won’t dwell on it (think tortoises on motorbikes and sheep with sniper rifles).

I’ll confess that I went, as a fan of the Conchords, to see Schaal, but I left more impressed by her co-star.  Don’t get me wrong: she’s just as much cute smiles and curls as you want and expect, and is an equal partner in this stage relationship.  But, having started with zero knowledge of Braunohler, I will now be keenly looking out for him in future – expect big things, particularly if the if.comedy award does go their way.

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