Review: Frimston and Rowett: A Sketch Show

Suzie Burlton 23 May 2012

Frimston and Rowett: A Sketch Show

ADC Lateshow, Tues 22 May

I’ve been bumping into Rowett for a few weeks now, ever since I reluctantly accepted a flyer from him. I don’t actually know him at all but now, in the best possible way, I feel like I do. That strange affinity that comes after revealing to your friends all your most “genius” ideas and having them go “Yeah, do it!”

The general set-up is pretty typical, with Rowett acting as the ‘posh-David-Mitchell’ one and Frimston the more ‘pleb-Robert-Webb’ one. I do slightly wish that there would be a comedy pairing one day which does not rely on this dichotomy. Surely the posh/pleb divide is not the only funny one in the world.

The jokes were right up my street. There was a nice balance of visual gags (like the funeral strippers) and pun-tastic wordplay (like my favourite sketch, the gangster names). There was only one which I felt dragged on for far too long and that was the “unlikely pairings” of police officers. OK, funny concept, but I did feel like I was being hit over the head with it and they didn’t do anything that I couldn’t guess from the names. It didn’t suit the medium because it was too bitty and didn’t need a full explanatory dialogue for each pair.

It says a lot about a Cambridge audience that in one sketch, one of the biggest laughs was from Frimston correcting Rowett: “It’s a parliament of owls, not a flock.” It possibly says even more about me that I got all the songs in the sun sketch on the first line. However, one of my favourite things about this show was the broad base of cultural references. I often feel a bit left out in comedy as people make allusions to aspects of “universal popular culture” that I have never heard of, but I don’t think anyone seriously missed out on anything tonight. They make you feel good about yourself and about laughing, without relying on hipster in-jokes and the sadism associated with others’ awkwardness.

I found Frimston the better performer, because he was more physically bold. Rowett could be a bit samey and mysteriously wore a waistcoat but left it undone, though both could have done with more brushing up on their reactions. The timing was fabulous, however, and the scene changes almost finger snapping quick. A tiny bit of me, though, hopes they never become famous, simply because I think a big budget TV show would spoil them. On an empty stage, you can get away with not showing a bathroom full of dead owls. Onscreen, it would be weird not to. If you have a budget of more than the zero pence I’m presuming for this show, the big sets would crowd all the jokes with too much sensory input. I think this kind of snap-change, varied-pace comedy thrives like this because the performers cannot become lazy – there’s nothing but them and the audience.

After this “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” late night insight into the pair’s minds, which truly made me laugh out loud at pretty much everything, I now feel I could share some of own insights with them. Progressive 3D foetus statues, anyone? Anyone at all?

Suzie Burlton