Ah, how I’ve missed the 107. In many ways, it’s like walking into my nan’s place – saggy couches, artwork that’s more or less there for the sake of being there, craft brews that mix coke, hazelnut and lager into a standard schooner, and an ominously vague but surprisingly appealing ‘mystery house white’.
What I perhaps haven’t missed as much was Tommy James Green, a man not much taller me, opening his own show in nothing but an unapologetic G-string. He had told me that his cast were ‘tough little nuts’ but my lord, those were some clangers of mf’ing steel.
Unfortunately, from that point on the ball dropped.
Tommy’s latest hour of sketch theatre brings out some of his best-known work that dips its fingers into many pies – ranging from religion to cats, Santa to CD’s, and flat earth to furballs. Yet even with its Short+Sweet alumni, there isn’t much for all audiences to latch on to and take from the show, making it an hour of comedy that exhibits the comedic potential of its cast well but I struggled to connect with.
To me, the best types of comedy do three things: make you laugh, make you think, and make you remember them. For reference, my top 3 SNL sketches are Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song (yes it’s not a real sketch but I’ll be damned if it’s not amazing), Wayne’s World Driver’s Ed (with Ed O’Neill), and Alec Baldwin’s ‘Schweddy Balls’ segment. All of those are still relevant and immensely watchable (even though I’m not Jewish, don’t drive, and can’t bake). With them, I can sit and just marvel at the timeless naivety of the scriptwriting, adaptability of props and set pieces, and likeability of the characters. In JCFR, however, I’m left to drink ‘mystery house white’ until the performance ends or I pass out.
We’ve seen Adam and Eve’s deception modernised in previous film, television and theatre shows before their role in the show’s first sketch. Complete with sexism, a God that substitutes volume for comedic delivery in his over-used jokes ‘I’m seeing Buddha for lunch’, and a lycra-clad Lucifer that doesn’t balance manipulative deviousness with the darker undertones upon which his comedy is based, it’s been done before and done better. However, include a song about transitions that acts as a transition (that seems written last-minute but delivered angelically) and I’m in a good mood for the next sketch.
Segueing into a desperate St Nick and his little helper pleading for help with his fledgling toy business (which, we are told, DOES NOT exploit their workers or prioritise rich kids), we get a few laughs about milk and cookies, Shrek 2 and mall Santas, but these jokes are far and few between weaker punchlines that drag them down. Unfortunate. Transition with a juggling act though? Fire.
Lead from this into a Wilfred-esque piece where a date abruptly ends due to an annoying talking cat (again wearing clothing that placed significant emphasis on a crotch bulge seared into my memory for all the wrong reasons) and I, a proud dog man, am understanding but not empathic to the comedy of the situation. In fact, being subject to 14 minutes of cat-based humour with only a 1-minute duologue between man and dog is sure to make every basic bitch like me heckin’ angery. I do believe this is the infamous ‘Scratch’ sketch, but all I was left to do was scratch my head and think about how much my dog was looking forward to seeing me at home. Combine this with a transition where we’re forced to read cue cards (instead of having someone perform them in what could’ve been a well-acted bit) and I’m further left to miss Millie instead.
End with a sketch concerning the violent repercussions of not returning a Game of Thrones Season 2 DVD that underplays the effects of a rapidly-changing media industry and the performance seems dated and misguided, missing a chance to make a real statement about digitisation to instead explore how much British people love Mary Poppins among other things. It’s comedy that might be enjoyed by the right audience with the right amount of alcohol, but beyond this niche perhaps not.
What’s a real shame is the hidden gems in each performance that are funny but under-utilised. Shrek 2 is in many ways a treasure trove for comedy, but its presence in the second sketch is short-lived. The henchman-sweetheart of the final sketch ‘Johnny the C*nt’ has a name sure to make any woman swoon but its comedic potential just isn’t employed after the first two minutes of the performance. I was left wanting more but getting none.
Ultimately, I was made to laugh – but not to think or remember. And even the laughter was only on occasion. I just feel I was the wrong audience member for a show like this. If you’re in Redfern, in your late 20s-early 30s with nothing to do and own a cat, drop by. But otherwise, let this Floating Roadshow float right away, all G-strings and crotch bulges included.