The Penny Dreadfuls and Pappy's Fun Club
The most fun I've had at this year's festival has been at two group comedy shows: Aeneas Faversham Forever by The Penny Dreadfuls and Funergy by Pappy's Fun Club. The Penny Dreadfuls describe themselves as 'a Victorian sketch comedy troupe' and their latest show is a tale of murder, the occult and children's authors. I've not been a great fan of Radio 4's Dickens parody Bleak Expectations and wondered if I might have a similar reaction to this show, but Aeneas Faversham Forever is witty and silly and features excellent performances from its three gentleman humorists. They apparently have a second series of The Brothers Faversham coming up on BBC 7 at some point but they are also very physical performers - somebody should put them on television.
Pappy's Fun Club is a more chaotic proposition, charting the team's attempt to save the Fun Club from closure by removing its reliance on electricity and running off the power of fun, or something. Characters that appear on stage include an evil killer whale, adopted by one of the Fun Club, and an elderly stuntman whose act now relies on pathetic puns rather than actual stunts. Some of the jokes fall flat, but I would forgive them almost anything for the sequence in which the Internet competes with a wise old owl to determine which of them is the superior source of information (the owl wins). The influence of Python is perceptible on both of these shows - and Ripping Yarns is the eccentric great uncle of Aeneas Faversham Forever - but both of these shows had more life in them than even the best of the stand-up I saw (David O'Doherty, by a mile).
Out of the shortlist that was announced today I would say that O'Doherty should win the if.comedy award, but that would be a little unreasonable as I didn't see shows by any of the other nominees. Anyone manage the full list?