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Prepare to Be Tuned
Published on Friday, 19 August 2011

3 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
3-29 Aug, 9:45pm-10:45pm
Reviewed by Lee Zhao

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

Ever since a certain act from New Zealand hit the scene, there's been a steady rise of parody music bands on the Fringe - the type that have a string of original, authentic sounding songs, except the lyrics have got all twisted. Anyone For Tennis? are Aussies, not Kiwis, but they're one of those acts: a headband-wearing acoustic duo, much like that other band (whose name I won't mention since I bet they get the comparison all the time).

AFT? consist of Doody on guitar - whose long blonde hair and awkward persona reminds me of Garth from Wayne's World - and Jase on bass, who looks like he could have been in an indie band for real. Together, they have an adorable chemistry and you can't help but be drawn into their cheeky banter between songs.

I'm a sucker for musical comedy, probably because of its longevity. Stand-up acts get stale the more you hear same jokes over and over. But set those jokes to good music, and even once the comedy has worn off, you can still enjoy a well-written song. And there are a few stand-out songs in Prepare to be Tuned: Tte sultry, Latin-American-infused ode to a pizza was my highlight.

But too many of their other songs sounded too generic, too similar; their music needs a bit more variation. There are also great similarities in lyrics, with most of the songs being a story of romance and relationships gone horribly wrong in some way. An alarming number of the jokes basically came down to sex or other such crude topics.

What was lacking was a keen sense of observational comedy: they managed to go through an entire song called Tottenham Court Road, including the set-up, without a single reference to the recent riots. I wouldn't have objected if some of the random comedy they have in some of their pithy bits between songs made it into the songs.

This show feels like it's a stepping stone to a much better show. One with a few more distinctly memorable songs and a slicker pace, and one where there isn't a sense of running out of material and padded out with filler. In the middle of Prepare to be Tuned, there's an overly long skit, which is nowhere near as funny as the rest of the show - and where it's very obvious that the duo are playing for time.

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