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Angela Barnes and Matt Richardson
Published on Friday, 10 August 2012
3

3 stars

Laughing Horse @ Espionage (venue website)
Comedy
2-14, 16-26 Aug, 2:30pm-3:30pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 16+ only.

I have a theory about comedy two-headers: there is always one act with great material but weak delivery, and one with excellent delivery but weaker material. And this show, down in the depths of Espionage, certainly didn’t do anything to dispel that belief.

First up is Angela Barnes. Barnes has some really excellent jokes. She has a very clever line in gags that completely invert expectations; jokes that seem to be heading one way and then swerve off in another, much cleverer direction. Class is a well-mined seam of comedy, but Barnes, a council estate girl who made it into the local grammar school, has a fresh take on the absurdities knowing your place. But her downbeat style does her no favours. Once or twice really good jokes didn’t get the laughs they should because the stings were thrown away as muttered asides. Barnes has a deadpan, shambling style, but I’d love to see her punchlines delivered with a bit more punch.

Conversely, Matt Richardson is pretty light on jokes, and the ones he has were pretty uninspired. A bit about his brother responding to bullying with non-sequiturs was interesting, mainly as it showed that a mixture of bravado and baffling non-jokes might be a family trait. But it’s that bravado that really counts, because Richardson has swagger (as do lots of young male stand-ups, but it’s no less impressive for that). He charms the audience and he times his jokes so well that, actually, the quality of the material doesn’t really matter.

It would be nice if these two could skill-share somehow. I found myself wondering what it would be like if Richardson delivered some of Barnes’s jokes, or if he taught Barnes how to be a little more cocky on stage. They are still both relative newcomers, after all, both with real talent, that just needs some more buffing to really shine.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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