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Socially Retarded
Published on Thursday, 20 August 2009

Socially Retarded examines the comedy of awkward social situations - and it does exactly what it sets out to do, if the frequent winces and sharp intakes of breath from the audience, followed by explosive laughter, are anything to go by.

Tomfoolery is a two-man comedy group, and I was expecting a joke along the lines of 'I'm Tom'/'I'm a fool' but it turns out they're both called Thomas. (Incidentally, that joke may explain why I write reviews of comedy rather than perform it - those who can, do, while those who can't, criticise, or something.)

These guys can do - and they go on and do it even when the audience is, as one, wishing they didn't. Whether it's performing skits based on crude racial stereotypes or acting out scenes from The Joy of Sex, this is brilliant hands-over-the-eyes stuff. I should say that those examples just describe the setup - for the punchline, which usually undercuts expectations, you'll need to see it in person.

The guys interacted well with their audience, and weren't in the least fazed by the bizarre antics of the front row family in the show I watched, nor by the revelation that the target of their flirtatious banter was a lesbian. Some of the characters in their sketch routines were a little weak (thinking of the book club couple in particular), but others were well-observed, such as the yobbish homosexual.

I wonder if the name of the show itself a subtle exploration of the effect of modern social norms on language and the changing nature of taboo? Probably not, but they sure confounded my expectations with the show: Tomfoolery were excellent. I highly recommend you catch them, as a great early evening option - but be sure to finish your drink before you go into the venue, as The Spaces at Royal College of Surgeons doesn't obviously warn you about their prohibition policy.

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