Date: 25th June 2010
Reviewed by: Jonathan Campbell
Stick or twist. It's a gamble we all face at crossroads in our lives, and that one fledgling comedy act Twisted Fudge may be approaching. Having rapidly garnered a reputation on London’s comedy circuit for some fearless live performances, Twisted Fudge have raised the stakes and packed out the Rosemary Branch Theatre for their latest gig.
This unpretentious North London venue harbours a cosy upstairs stage that seems a little at odds with the decor and pub regulars downstairs, but this is quickly forgotten as opening act Roderic Johnson warms plays to the crowd.
My first hope on hearing his name is I’m set for some Monty Python inspired tomfoolery but, to his credit, Roderic is far more subtle and original than that. Dealing in musical comedy, a genre enjoying a Flight of the Conchords inspired revival of late, Johnson rifles through a short set full of sleight of word lyrics and witty observations.
Songs range from that all inclusive notion of love, the cosmopolitan delights Legoland has to offer the traveller on a budget and Johnson's very public experiences with his racist nan. He gets the crowd going and sets the stage for the main act.
Starting out with a purely aural crank call skit before segueing into a silent internet chat room sketch played out for the audience through a projector, it swiftly becomes clear that Twisted Fudge are a multi-media act. After this unconventional opening, the quartet settles down to more familiar territory and take to the stage for some one dimensional fare on Jamie Oliver. But, much as the rise of the tv chef is deserving of satire, the predictable material and execution of this target does it no favours.
Another sketch offers a biting riposte to a child actor from Eastenders, which may or may not have been hilarious. Unfortunately, you'd have to be a committed fan of the show to know who they were talking about and that niche market doesn't include me. Nor, I imagine, many other young city folk who frequent the live comedy circuit. Or have a life.
The show picks up after this, with the ensemble delving deeper into the recesses of their minds. Perverted vignettes of city life and the nature of celebrity tv hit home far more convincingly than the safer material on offer before.
After catching a quick glimpse of the performers during the now ritual interval cigarette, the audience head back to the theatre for a quick spot of musical chairs as we head into the second act.
Surreal spoofs parodying entertainment staples Richard and Judy, Alan Sugar and Bambi stand out, all performed with gusto by the boys and girl of the comedy troupe. My favourite moment involved a spiky update on the Mr Men series that I loved growing up, and the group excel in taking innocent institutions or memories from childhood and distorting them as far as their warped collective sense of humour will allow.
And it's here that Twisted Fudge are at their most entertaining.
The nature of their comedy works best for me when they push themselves and their audience out of the comfort zones we create for our everyday lives. When they drift into safer territory, they lose their impact and my attention.
Twisted Fudge seem prepared to take more chances than your typical live comedy act. I just hope they don't get stuck in mainstream material and carry on twisting.