Joz Norris and Ed Aczel are two of my favourite comedians, in some ways they’re quite different as Aczel flirts with anti-comedy and is happy to chat to the audience and includes a lot of improv in his shows, while Norris is a storyteller who includes a fair amount of prop comedy, but they do have a fair amount in common too. For one thing they are both lo-fi absurdists who have quite a unique sense of humour, and they’re also two of the best comics this country has to offer.
They’ve been performing shows like Ed and Joz’s Deleted Scenes live on stage together this year, and now they’re also producing short films and tv pilots like this one. As the title suggests, it’s a spin on heist movies, but a pretty original one as it’s not filled with dazzling twists and unpredictable turns, indeed it’s the opposite of Ocean’s 11 and Hustle and a distinctly low key affair as the two men try to pull off a short con which involves stealing a vending machine from a local office.
As a recent episode of Rick and Morty suggested though, heist movies (and heist tv shows) have been done to death recently, and like many I’m a bit fed up with them, so originally I wasn’t filled with joy at the prospect of another heist based comedy. But Aczel and Norris have created something rather special here, a very British affair where Aczel decides to become a career criminal and who asks Norris for help, with the latter amusingly agreeing because “You know me Ed, I’m always happy to help out with a project, it’s just nice to have something to do really.”
It works so effectively because it isn’t full of the smugness polished heist fiction often offers up, these two are distinctly misguided and amateurish in their efforts. So humourously their plan is a very basic one, with a diagram of their criminal act ridiculously simple, and when Joz raises the pretty important question as to whether or not the vending machine will fit through the exit, Aczel really isn’t that bothered, casually mentioning that they’ll “Cross that bridge when we come to it”.
Also very funny is a trip to a clothing store where Aczel asks the sales assistant for help when it comes to what a vending machine repairman might wear (with Michael Stranney turning in a great cameo here), while Joz’s stake out of the vending machine sees him make friends with various employees of the company they intend to rip off, doing the exact opposite of what a real con man would do.
The actual heist itself is of course far more complicated than they prepared for, and involves appearances from very funny comedians Lucy Pearman, Ben Target and Alison Thea-Skot, and it all adds up to a comedy which not only made me laugh more than the majority of tv shows do, but which looks and sounds ready to air on tv too. So I really hope this recently made pilot isn’t a case of One and Done, it’d be a real crime if these glorious idiots weren’t given their own series, and one which should be punished by a very long prison sentence indeed.