Brighton Fringe 2012
Fast and furious, and I mean fast and furious, improvised comedy show.
Since Whose Line Is it Anyway? there have been a number of comedy troupes providing improvised, audience suggestion based comedy. What makes The Noise Next Door stand out is their energy and the fact that the evening is conceived of as a complete show. The acts aren’t random – they plan the games / topics (though many of the audience suggestions are extremely random), and having two stand up comic steps in-between the improvised mayhem helps give the show some differences in pace that make it a great evening out.
The two comics, who both did (very) individual sets, were a great contrast – I don’t know if this was conceived of like this , but they were older, bigger compared to this frisky, enthusiastic bunch of entertainers. That helped to vary the tone of the evening – both comics were experienced pros who knew how to handle an audience. Phil Butler’s joking about with producing sounds from baby toys from Mothercare, had amongst many punchlines,
“I get queues of men after the show asking where they can get them”
– I thought, yeah I was going to ask that too.
Rudi Lickwood was another comic fully in control of his material and the audience, baring the truth of what parents really feel (violent stuff!).
When The Noise Next Door leap out onto the stage in their party clothes – black with a very bright different coloured tie for each one, they are announcing themselves as a coherent group – you kind of feel you are in safe entertainment hands (unless you are in the front row – but hey, everybody knows the front row is a risky place to sit in a comedy show if you don’t like the limelight).
And this is the core of the show – five blokes who’ll act and sing anything you shout at them, to produce, as that evening, a poodle parlour run by Morris men, a trip to a volcano with the group acting as living props – bicycles, binoculars – online portrayals which you have seen the like of before!
The only bit of the show that didn’t quite take off was the mastermind spoof, where one of the troupe had the comics answering questions on their chosen topic . The questions were worked out before, so there was a slightly stilted quality to this and the comics seemed less comfortable with this, never sure whether they were going to deliver the comedy in their answer, or whether the quiz master had the joke up his sleeve.
But that just goes to show how strong their spontaneous and improvised quality is, when they are genuinely in the moment working off the audience and each other, with just that moment generated ideas. The revolving TV channel section was a personal favourite – imagine Come Dine With Me focussed on a badger , a classical music – focused on a badger, a horror move – you get the drift. But as the channels were “swapped” it was a hilarious seeing them pick up the badger in one of its comic guises. They’re absolutely not afraid to “fail” either – as one said to the other as the two of them tried to perform a badger symphony – “You really can’t do classical at all can you?” Very funny and that’s what counts. It’s a good show to see.