Adelaide Fringe 2012
The Golden Phung’s Encylopaedia of Everything
The Golden Phung
The Worldsend Hotel
Festival: Adelaide Fringe
Adelaide sketch comedy team The Golden Phung endeavour to educate the audience through presenting ‘The Encyclopaedia of Everything’. Skits are categorised by topics such as Religion, Unemployment, Miscellaneous, etc. and the skits themselves are short yet sharp. The cast give it their all when occupying the stage, and their comedy style ranges from satire to witticisms to word play, with a dash of the wonderfully absurd. Uproariously funny, the Phung are indeed gold class.
From the get-go, the audience was giggling as the Golden Phung opened the show with a sketch about World War Two’s ‘Clown Army’ – described as ‘the punch-line of defence’. The sketch itself had been filmed previously and was projected onto the curtain, and already it was evident that the troupe had not skimped on costumes, setting, sound production or effects. After opening credits spoofing ‘The A-Team’, the Golden Phung graciously shared with the audience their knowledge on the topics of Insurance; Religion; Unemployment; and Miscellaneous.
Some sketches were stand-alone, such as one about a rather ineffective sack-wielding superhero Red Typhoon, or a recurring joke about a South African games keeper giving public service announcements about what was ‘illegal’ (budgie smuggling, poaching eggs, feeding Hungry, Hungry Hippos…). The show closed with a song featuring a range of topics sung in different musical styles, such as a punk screaming about taxes and ‘R and Bee’.
With many televised Australian sketch comedies seeming to coast by simply on impersonating celebrities and making sport of stereotypes, The Golden Phung instead tailor their comedy to have mass appeal. There are multiple witty one-liners, and, as evidenced in the South African games keeper sketch, double meanings. Reminiscent of such great British sketch teams such as That Mitchell and Webb Look or Big Train, there’s also humour to be found in viewing reality through a skewed lens, such as in my favourite sketch of the night, where a book agent tries to make changes to the Bible. Said agent wants to make God a lightning-hurling wizard, and have ‘celebrity’ Samson included in the Bible, because of a product placement contract. It’s at once poking fun at modern marketing and celebrity culture, and yet also lampooning the Old Testament’s portrayal of God as, well… a lightning-hurling wizard.
No sketch comedy is complete without some pointed socio-political satire, and the Phung made sure to include some wry commentary on issues such as homophobia, feminism, and duplicitous sales pitches. There were even dashes of meta-commentary in places.
A genuine effort was made for every cast member to have equal stage time, and each cast member was a strong character actor. Costume changes were quick and seamless, and the sound quality was excellent. It should also be noted that in the filmed sketches, care was taken to present the snippets in a particular style, such as an old British film, or a 1960s television serial.
Many of the jokes hit their mark, and there wasn’t a ‘weak link’ sketch – the audience was in stitches throughout the show. One of the best comedies I’ve ever seen presented in Adelaide, these young comics are not only a cohesive team, but genuinely hilarious to boot. Remember the name ‘The Golden Phung’ – they’re destined for big things.