Pappy's All Business
Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe, Thursday 19 August 2010
Pappy's – now shorn of one member and the ‘Fun Club’ part of their name – take to the stage in front of a largely adoring audience to the tune of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Takin’ Care Of Business. Only they come on too early, before the lyrics even start, and spoil the effect – unless, that is, you’re a sad old git like me and you already know the song. Most of the audience are too young to remember album tracks from unhip 1970s boogie-rock bands, unless there’s been a Don't Stop Believin'-style rehabilitation and I missed it.
Not that this is important in itself. I can go home and listen to my desperately outdated music collection any time, and I’d already heard more of it than I (or anyone else) deserved in Edinburgh when the dance show Soap played She Brings The Rainby Can.
I only bring it up because it’s a foretaste of the desperately shambolic nature of the show. You might say this review is just as shambolic, but I paid £12 to see Pappy’s and you’re not paying to read this.
The Pappy boys might argue that this is part of their charm, but there’s a limit to how far you can go by sniggering at your own crapness and hoping the audience can see that you’re not fooled any more than they are. There’s no doubt that they’re talented performers – especially the short, bearded Matthew Crosby, who shares more than just stature with Christopher Ryan as he lays down the law to the audience (“no refunds!”) – but the show itself is reminiscent of a 6th Form revue. You’d be impressed if you were 18 and these were yer mates up there, but a comedy team that’s been together more than half a decade should have moved on by now.
It’s not all bad, and some of the audience were screaming with laughter as the team moved from sketch to sketch while trying to maintain some sort of coherent storyline via some very forced and disjointed links. The jokes were usually telegraphed from a distance of several miles, and sometimes worked all the better for it. There were also some sublime moments, with three French sisters played by Tom Parry with a pole across his neck dangling a doll either side, and best of all when the trio wore t-shirts with designs that gradually became a fruit machine as they progressively took the shirts off.
The jackpot was three cherries, if you must know, but three lemons would have summed up the show. It came across like improvised comedy, but we forgive impro because we know the comic has just made it up. This was scripted, although they were sometimes funnier when they veered away from the script.
Ultimately, they’re still just a bunch of students larking about, and we’ve seen it all before – long before some of this audience were even born. You might still find it hilarious if you’re under 30; or at least, if your age and mental age add up to less than 30.