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Published on Tuesday, 18 August 2009

WitTank, a particularly rude spoonerism, surprised me twofold: first, by not being as smutty as their name suggests, but also by being one of the funniest shows I have seen so far this year. I was a bit nervous at first: while the four guys who make up WitTank are all possessed of strange and comical features, they seemed much too young. One of the group exemplified both of these elements, resembling nothing so much as Hans Gruber as a baby.

My nervousness soon ebbed away. WitTank make a claim for "razor-sharp sketches", and I could practically feel the blood from the second row. Their sketches are expertly crafted and the pace is spot on: they mix longer, developed set pieces with short skits that grab an instant laugh, and splice clever, wordier, ideas with physical, almost slapstick comedy. I found myself laughing uncontrollably at a recurring sketch of two people walking into each other, for example.

Their extended penultimate sketch, about the dangers of assisted bag-packing at Tesco, was fantastic, and actually quite daring – they are not lacking in the self-confidence required to judge that it would hold the attention of the audience, or the skill to make sure that it did.

There are a number of good sketch shows at the Fringe this year, and it’s probably fair to say that WitTank is a bit less polished than some of the bigger names. But that’s not much of a criticism when their material is the match of any other, and their enthusiasm and sense of fun is contagious (watch and laugh as they try to crack each other up throughout the show).

I went in to see WitTank knowing nothing about these guys other than the gag title, and I came out creased with laughter and prepared to strongly recommend it to anyone who would listen. They say at the outset of the show there will be no unnecessary swearing, and they even do a ‘think tank’ sketch to trick you into thinking that’s the reference they were making. I’m sure they’re much ruder than they profess to be, though…

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