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McNeil and Pamphilon: Which One Are You?
Published on Friday, 19 August 2011
2

2 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
Comedy
3-16, 18-28 Aug, 5:40pm-6:35pm
Reviewed by Hannah Van Den Bergh

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Accusing BBC Radio 4 of being “witty but not funny”, McNeil and Pamphilon are making big statements in a show that sadly fails to fulfil either criterion. The duo make an unintentional farce of sketch comedy, attempting to clarify for the audience whether they are a ‘McNeil’ or a ‘Pamphilon’ – depressive mortgagee or sexy idiot?

The silly, slapstick routine was under-practiced and over-egged.  They rely heavily on the embodiment of stereotypical male humour – all 'knob' gags and touching each other up, a far cry from the splendid array of well-conceived male sketch talent available at the Fringe.

You cannot, however, deny the pair their chemistry.  With stronger material, that tended away from easily-planted sex jokes, this duo would no doubt ooze potential. They bounce off each other, although unfortunately the punch lines are often disappointing. There were some highlights – in particular, a routine about an adopted son, and their own intimate interpretation of the game “eat a doughnut without licking your lips”.  A combination of songs, rewritten to obtain comic value, worked too, but these moments were devalued amidst the other fifty minutes of poor comic attempts.

An element with promise, about the state of McNeil's dress – he was standing in an audience member’s dinner jacket looking like an “undertaker on dress down Friday” – could well have been used more to their advantage with stronger material.  The finale, a tragic love song that saw the boys serenading their feelings for one another, was a sadly dull ending.

It must be noted that some of the audience did find it funny, perhaps partly because they'd spent a fair amoung of time in the bar beforehand.  But to my mind, any joke that relies on someone taking their trousers off, or touching their co-partner’s genitalia as an easy attempt for a punchline, steps closer to alienating the audience than making them laugh. 

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