Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Using songs and beats as their vehicle for comedy, two men handily engage their audience.
Daniel Stanger-Cornwell and James Hawley are the 2 Mouthed Men, two young guys who have parlayed their comic skills and love of music into a slapstick-style comedy cabaret show. They use original songs, sung a cappella, with a guitar, with backing tracks, or with a loop station. The hook is the “beats” created by mouth drumming aka beat boxing.
The show opens with James sweeping the stage floor as he mime whistles. Daniel joins in the action, and the two actors mime vocals to a recorded track. The live narration introduces the audience to The Great British Beat Off, a parody of baking competition shows. Their use of elements of beatboxing to illustrate the steps in baking a cake is quite charming and a very clever way to present beatboxing. Other themes deal with daily life, include toilet humour, a recurring cow udder, and body parts, all made funnier by the miming and vocalizations. There is even a cute pandemic reference when they sing Happy Birthday while handwashing. Throughout the show they add slapstick moves that move the stories forward and keep the audience laughing. In two sections they cleverly bring audience members on stage to participate in the action.
I am constantly amazed by what performers can deliver with just their bodies and mouths. 2 Mouthed Men is an example of ingenuity. They dance, they rap, they beatbox, and they are funny. Each skill on its own would only fill a few minutes of entertainment, but taken together, they make for a very fun show.
Daniel is a writer and multi-instrumentalist. James is a writer and self-taught beatboxer. They started their entertainment journey as students at University of Exeter in 2017. Like many students drawn to a cappella, they engaged. And built on it, adding comedy sketches and original songs. They have appeared twice before at the Edinburgh Fringe and have toured throughout the UK.
The strength of the show is in the miming and the antics. The audience stays engaged and entertained by the quick pace and clever routines. The show is promoted as rap and beatbox as a framework for the comedy. The rap work is well-timed well but is quite basic. The beat boxing could be improved on by adding more variety of sounds. The two guys produce basic beats but never build on them. There is so much that a good beatboxer can do beyond just imitating drums and bass sounds. Beatboxing has really exploded on the international scene. Giant competitions in Europe and the U.S. attract hundreds of thousands to watch the competitors use every ounce of energy to wow their audience and judges. Those top notch beatboxers use every part of their mouth and voice to create a variety of sounds, from a speeding train to vocal scratching – and, of course, a set of drums. Working on expanding the beats repertoire by Daniel and James would elevate the show to make it truly unique in both the comedy and music fields.
2 Mouthed Men is a feel-good show that will leave you smiling and glad that you spent an hour with these two gifted performers.