Edinburgh Fringe 2014
BBC and ITV’s award-winning double act with a difference … of opinion! A heady mix of backstage tantrums and on-stage routines, Back to Front follows the exploits of a double act both in front of and behind the curtain
Is this the end of the road for long-time comedy partners, Avent and Monie? This question lurks in the background of this sketch comedy hour from two seasoned campaigners and comes more to the fore as the hour progresses.
Laden with groaners to make Tim Vine proud my initial thought was that this was comedy for the older generation. Looking at the audience however, I witnessed more than a few twenty-somethings sniggering and giggling at humour that was firmly located in the Morecambe and Wise tradition, yet happily strayed into the darker realms of alternative comedy.
Avent & Monie: Back to Front is a show that allows the two to comment on their own work, their long-standing relationship “on the road”, as well as to play different characters and poke a stick at the human condition. Not all of the material is equally strong; some of the groaners were too groany, and some of the sketches didn’t pack enough punch. Others were full of cleverness. Often at the heart is the comedy of juxtaposition – putting something normal in one situation into a different situation and creating laughs from the clash.
Avent and Monie are perfect foils for each other; their market research sketch brought out lightning quick wordplay skills. They do tightly scripted material well, but equally can fall happily into improvisation. This is born of a confidence that only comes from having done a lot of gigs with each other. Their rapport is natural and a source of comedy in itself – the sideways glance, the verbal pokes that come from a familiarity over time that breeds contempt. We never quite believe the nastier things they say to each other but happily join in with the panto quality of some of the banter.
Between the sketches there are some home movie style short films, some hit, others more miss, but still a pleasingly refreshing addition to the variety in the show. And every single one of them got a laugh.
Overall, this is an enjoyable hour with two accomplished comedians who have created a show that delivers plenty of laughs from both the sketches and the unfolding story of two comedians who are tired of each other but also have become inseparable. It’s an hour well spent with two highly capable and charismatic performers. Recommended.