|Peacock & Gamble Don't Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway|
|Published on Tuesday, 07 August 2012|
Ray Peacock and Ed Gamble don’t even want to be on telly anyway – and that, they stress, is completely their choice. Mourning their lack of TV appearances (their solitary TV credit remaining Russell Howard’s Good News) and not caring anyway is the basic premise of an hour crammed full of well-executed and deconstructed comedy and surrealism.
We are welcomed into their lighthouse, “fitted with chairs for some reason,” says Ed. “Too many chairs,’ quips Ray, referring to the numerous empty seats. But still, this is just a few days into the Fringe, and this tiny room upstairs in the Dome is not the easiest to track down – despite the neon projection on the wall as you come in.
Peacock demonstrates the merits of live entertainment by high-fiving an audience member. “You couldn’t do that on TV,” he says, “there’s glass in the way.” This is sort-of the point: on stage they have freedom, can do anything and everything they want. Which is exactly what they do. You are unlikely to see another show at the Fringe with so many different parts melded together, without it feeling jarring and distracting. So much meticulous thought has gone into the structure, let alone the material within it.
Peacock & Gamble flirt with comic conventions, then chew them up and spit them out. Ray “knows all the jokes”, so he’s fused some traditional ‘doctor doctor’ and ‘knock knock’ gags together to create ‘super jokes’; there are musical numbers, reinterpretations of classic comedy sketches involving fork handles, dead parrots, and Tarzan auditions. There’s also ventriloquism, and even partial nudity.
For these reasons it’s difficult to pin Peacock & Gamble down. They are a new-age double act, true to the traditional form in some respects – with Ray playing the childish, rebellious character, and Ed the stern mothering figure who helps Ray get changed when he gets stuck in his shirt. They clearly understand the mechanics of comedy; they explain why some things work better than others, but never try to be patronising or clever. (Mind you, the re-workings of the Two Ronnies, Monty Python, et al are very clever… but they’re popular enough references to include most audience members in the in-joke.)
The problem, if there is one, is that because of its sheer breadth – and a refusal to conform to conventions that would get you on TV (obviously) – the show may not be for everyone. Some people don’t like jokes being dissected in front of them, and that’s fine; it’s a question of taste. The audience in this instance were willing to go along with the attempt to break the ‘audience lull’, which Ed & Ray introduce in grand fashion. It happens in every show, they reassure us, depending on various factors, one being “the quality of the show”.
Peacock & Gamble Don’t Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway is a triumph for live comedy. A triumph for the form, and for the people who live constantly and willingly in the shadow of the faces on panel shows and comedy roadshows. And even if one of Peacock & Gamble does make it on to the Apprentice, they insist it’ll be because they’re good at business and nothing else. So go see them now – before they get on telly.
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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.