One and Done: Pappy’s Fun Club

Way back in the mists of time (or from around 2004, at least) there used to be four men who made up the sketch group Pappy’s Fun Club. I first saw them performing at a local comedy night and even though only two were present that night I found them pleasingly silly and incredibly likeable, and for the next couple of years regularly saw them in tiny rooms above pubs in London. The gigs were ramshackle in nature with a fair amount of improvising, and each and every night I attended is a very fond memory. Then in 2007 they started getting noticed, receiving rave reviews at Edinburgh, and began being able to play much bigger venues, but still had the same innate charm.

Unfortunately in 2009 they fired one of the founder members, Brendan Dodds, and renamed themselves Pappy’s, and for me haven’t been quite as good since, they’ve lost some of their charm, though it seems I’m in the minority here. Another reason I’m less fond of them is that they no longer perform live and haven’t since 2012, but continue as podcasters, with Pappy’s Bangers and Mash lasting until 2017 whilst Pappy’s Flat Share Slamdown is still being released to this day, and whilst fun I preferred seeing them perform in the flesh. Tv wise they’ve produced one series, Badults, and also made a couple of pilots, and it’s the first one from 2008 which featured Brendan that I’m reviewing this time around.

It begins with a simple if likeable song introducing the audience to the gang, with the group then walking out on stage to an applauding audience who feature a fair amount in the show. It’s quickly revealed that Pappy, the group’s mysterious benefactor, is unhappy with them, claiming they’re the worst of all of his fun clubs, that audience figures are at an all time low, and that they’re wasting so much energy that they’re melting his polar fun cap. So if they don’t improve, and find a more energy efficient way to operate, they’ll be closed down.

The audience are soon rigged up to a machine that creates ‘Funergy’, and what follows next is a selection of supposed guests on the show, all played by members of the cast, who have to keep the crowd entertained. Alas conceptually some are weak ideas, especially Harold Carp who is the star of The Rancid Chef and does disgusting things like lick bandages, but his antics are fairly dull, whilst others are, well, they’re not exactly great but there’s some humour to be found from The Man Without A Limp and a brief appearance from the Pappy’s spin-off sitcom “Our Four Dads”. The main recurring guest is a minstrel who has “danced with pixies and buried them in the sand” and “tossed off a unicorn”, this was an element from their live shows and it was pretty funny there, but here it’s only okay.

Throughout the episode there’s commentary from the team about how the show isn’t going that well, with concerns about the ratings and how Pappy is going to close them down, and it’s hard to root for them as whilst there’s promise shown it’s not consistent enough. That’s not to say there aren’t some genuinely funny moments, and I was fond of how it begins with clips of their favourite moments from the show (ie the previous 30 seconds), whilst I liked a brief segment called “Ben’s World Corner” a lot, what with it including facts like “The Eiffel Tower is made entirely out of wind” and that Canadian’s supposedly have giant hands, which turns in to a decent running joke throughout the episode. Meanwhile there’s a cute gag about Brendan’s internal monologue having a female voice, and there’s the odd funny one liner or comment from time to time. But it’s not enough, and whilst everything’s tied up nicely by the end it didn’t leave me wanting more.

In some ways it feels like a modern version of The Goodies mixed with Vic and Bob’s Big Night Out, but it’s a very mixed bag and as mentioned above only certain parts work well, and it’s understandable that it wasn’t given a full series. It’s a shame in some ways though as I know Pappy’s Fun Club had it in them to create a really great series, and who knows, if it had been successful they might not have gotten rid of Brendan. As it is it’s a curiosity, one which fans might enjoy to a certain extent, but I could completely understand why others might not take to it at all.

Alex Finch.

Related Links:
Unfortunately the pilot has been removed from youtube but here is a brief sketch from Comedy Shuffle.
Pappy’s Official Site.

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