Brighton Comedy Festival review: ‘Frisky & Mannish: Just Too Much’

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There’s a very good sketch in the series Big Train in which adoring fans won’t let Ralph McTell escape the shadow of his most famous song.

The audience aren’t interested in the new, original stuff, only happy when he’s revisiting old hits. It’s a risk that Frisky & Mannish are acutely aware of – they are quick to reference, in an opening video montage, the reasons that have made them so popular thus far – from a Kate Nash flavoured rendition of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, stopping off at a so-called ‘stalker melody’ on the way (both of which are very much worth firing up on YouTube). It’s a neat way of sugaring the pill before the duo deliver some original sounds.

Pills – and all manner of other stimulants – are the order of the hour, as F&M warn of the inevitable burn out of a massively successful pop duo – the jealousy, the backstabbing, the whispers about whether or not they’ve had sex on tour, and of course bitterness regarding who has the most popular hashtag.

Obviously then, Britney gets name-checked, although not as much as you might have feared/hoped. The pair spark off each other with all the fizz and energy you’d want from a couple who you might find in the VIP lounge of a top-end nightclub.

The bulk of the show has been toured for around a year now, which means that the source of some of the hour’s sharpest gags, such as Sinead O’Conner’s concern for her pop sisters, may now be obscure to anyone with a short memory. Distance might soften the sharp topicality, but does nothing to blunt the gleeful joy and breath-taking smarts of ripping one musical genre and mangling it into another.

Like all the best satire, Frisky & Mannish may take the mick, but their sneers are delivered with the pouty lips of love (and yes, that may be the most disturbing sentence this reviewer has ever written).

A major highlight of the hour, and also something to sate the appetite of returning fans, is the dry sideswipe at so-called feminist anthems, most of which are found to be profoundly lacking (although both Lady Gaga and Katy Perry get a pass here). Meanwhile, there’s a light narrative running in the background that hints at tensions beneath the surface, leading to a very public bust up that smashes a wrecking ball into Frisky & Mannish’s relationship.

The vocals on display are as impressive as ever, rocking from Bieber to divas, with razor sharp observations on the way. There are some cute interactions with the audience, and searingly funy jokes. Just too much? Perhaps, but we eagerly await just a little more.


Performed on Saturday 10 October 2015 at Brighton Comedy Festival.

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