NextUp Review: Roisin and Chiara – Back To Back

roisin and chiara index
On paper Roisin and Chiara are exactly the kind of comedy that I love the most as they’re a sketch duo who are anarchic and unpredictable, plus they include a couple of (short) songs and leap from character to character with admirable ease. But this is only a show I partially liked, at certain points it’s very funny and impressive but at other times it falls a tad flat, and there’s one bit which made me cringe as it’s something that many others have done before.

Starting with the negative aspects, the first five minutes of the show is just them fucking about and it doesn’t really entertain, and at this point I was beginning to have concerns that this could plausibly be a disaster. Thankfully it picks up for a while after that but it isn’t long before they launch in to the worst sketch of the night, where Roisin pretends to be Morpheus from The Matrix and offers Chiara the red pill or the blue pill. Distinctly underwhelmed she turns down his offer of life in a space ship, preferring fantasy over reality, which might have been amusing when the films were originally released but well over a decade since the last movie it just feels cringeworthy, as almost every joke about The Matrix has been done countless times since then and this offers up nothing new at all.

Also on the slightly poor side is a rendition of The Police’s Roxanne where they don’t change the lyrics bar inserting Roisin’s name in to the song, and another musical moment is disappointing where REM’s Shiny Happy People plays as Roisin and Chiara put on weird hats and dance about before Chiara goes in to the audience supposedly “Searching for answers” as Roisin narrates her antics and describes the audience in silly ways. Perhaps on another night it worked but here it’s mostly unfunny, ending with the supposed levitation of a woman called Sarah where she just stands on a chair.

It’s a shame that these elements of the special don’t work as when on form Roisin and Chiara can be very, very funny. Their audience work close to the beginning of the show is strong, especially when they pretend to be the Fun Loving Criminals at Glastonbury, as is a rap they improvise about one of the audience members. The surreal sketches are often the funniest too, like one where Roisin wears a wolf’s head, shoots Chiara, only for her to retort “What have we talked about? You need to swim at the lido regularly”. Sure, it makes no sense, but that applies to the majority of their best work, and a sketch where Roisin wears a gorilla head and does a bit of scatting in the audience (the jazz version of that word, I should stress) made me laugh hard.

Also fun is a fake argument, a skit where the two women pretend to be party addicts and during which the lines “We went out eight days ago. We’re relentless” and “I just felt so sad. The whole time” generated a lot of laughter, and a discussion about how they’re the opposite of their stereotypes with Chiara being a repressed Italian whereas Roisin is a slutty Irish Catholic worked especially well, and got better and better as it went along with Roisin falling for a member of the audience called Russ who seemed to reciprocate her feelings.

Whether you feel the same way about Roisin and Chiara as I do may depend on if you like this sort of chaotic comedy, which bares a good few similarities to The Mighty Boosh with the language used, the musical elements, and the almost stream of consciousness take on reality in certain sketches. They’re definitely a duo I’d like to see more of despite my issues too, as it can’t be denied that they’re talented performers who can be very, very funny – I just find myself wishing that this show was a little more consistently amusing, and not quite so uneven.

Alex Finch.
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Related Links:
NextUp – The Stand Up Streaming Site.
Roisin and Chiara’s Official Site.


  1. Unfortunately, lots of the music had to be changed (on the day) for the recording (rights/cost) so this doesn’t quite have the same effect as seeing the show live (not that many recordings do), certainly by the time they did a run at soho theatre the shows felt much more cohesive. It’s nice to have a record, but live is so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did get the sense that it was definitely one of those gigs that would be more fun to be at (like most, as you point out) and that is a shame about the music side of things, I’ll definitely try to catch them live soon to see what they’re like now.

      Liked by 1 person

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