Backyard Comedy Club, Bethnal Green, London, 18/06/2019.
As mentioned a while back due to Edinburgh previews being a work in progress and far from the finished piece I’m only reviewing them if I enjoyed them, as it seems unfair to be critical of something that may change an enormous amount and is still being tested out. Fortunately so far that’s only led to my not reviewing one show, and even then I liked that a good deal, it just was very rough around the edges and was clearly going to be altered a lot so any review of it wouldn’t capture it’s essence and thus be a bit pointless.
When it comes to Tarot this was a very early preview, and we were only given a portion of the show, but it was so good that I feel the need to sing it’s praises. A new sketch group made up of Kath Hughes and Edward Easton from Gein’s Family Giftshop and Adam Drake from Goose, the framing device is that the three name members of the audience as if by magic and then pick out a tarot card for them, with the name of that card being the sketch they then go on to perform. Apparently there will be a lot more spooky goings on during the evening then we got tonight, and an appearance from a well known evil fellow at the end, but this evening was all about seeing how the main sketches worked and on that front I was greatly impressed.
Starting off with the oddest yet funniest house band I’ve ever seen, it just being a cloaked man on stage quietly mumbling in an arcane language, all of the sketches that followed were pretty unpredictable and impressively performed. Some were fairly brief, like a skit involving a man on a stag night, while Ed’s guide to clapping only lasted a short while, but both still elicited laughs. I have to admit to preferring the longer sketches where they were able to really flesh out the ideas present though, and the best of these involved Kath and Adam doing impersonations of each other’s mothers which became increasingly more brutal as it went along, one where Ed couldn’t remember his new girlfriend’s name and his attempts to find out were more and more convoluted, and which ended in a deliciously strange way, and a skit which saw a teacher use a tin can and a long piece of string to teach his pupils that had a beautiful pay off that I didn’t see coming at all.
It ended with some nudity, the mere mention of which I’m sure means it will now be a sell out show in Edinburgh, though it was accidental and if they do it effectively in the future that won’t be the case. A sketch set in a sauna it was hilarious to watch, if only as Ed and Adam went on stage wearing the smallest of towels and taunted each other with the threat of their stealing the other’s, and it ended with a fantastic moment that once again I’d never have predicted. All in all it was a show I liked an awful lot, some sketch groups take a while to gel together but with Ed, Kath and Adam it feels like they’ve been working together for ages and there’s a real infectious joy to much of their comedy, at least when it’s not being disturbing.
After the break Adam Drake took to the stage in the form of his one man sketch group Goose, though for the first time he’s now going to have actors on stage with him at certain points. Alas they weren’t present tonight so Drake spent a fair amount of time explaining what was going to go on in the show, and acting out all of the characters himself, so it’s hard to know just how good it will be at this point, though judging by the sketches he did perform I’m optimistic that it should be just as great as his acclaimed previous work.
The longest sketch was the best which saw Adam sing a song about how after his success at a previous Edinburgh Festival he hoped to get on tv, normally it will be performed with a band on stage but tonight it was Adam singing alone, he might not have the best vocals in the world but it was a still extremely funny to hear and he performed it with aplomb. There was also a selection of other sketches, the best of which saw him tell the history of Brexit in French, my knowledge of the language is shockingly poor but he does it in such a way that even if like me you can speak very little of it you’ll still find it very, very funny.
He also took on a variety of other characters, and if I were to go in to detail about them it would spoil the effect, but even though many of the sketches were only a line or two long they still made me laugh hard. Drake was a little apologetic towards the end saying that the finished show would make much more sense, but even in this early form it’s extremely promising stuff, and combined with his work in Tarot I’ve every reason to suspect that he’ll do extremely well at the festival indeed.