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FringeReview UK 2022

Troy Hawke: Sigmund Troy’d!

Milo McCabe

Genre: Character Stand up, Comedy

Venue: Sutton Coldfield Town Hall


Low Down

Milo McCabe in the guise of 1930s styled, home-schooled, infectiously enthusiastic character Troy Hawke takes the audience on an hilarious Scrabble-assisted, social media-fused, flight of fancy into a world of coincidence, conspiracy and so much more.


As the warm welcome subsided the purple smoking jacketed, pencil moustachioed, 1930s inspired throwback, Troy Hawke scanned the room, yellow feather in hand. He thanked the majority who appeared delighted to see him and acknowledged those who through folded arms and less open body language indicated that at least for now they were not so sure and were playing it safe. Sitting on or near the front row at a comedy show can do that to you. However, in the presence of the ever positive and optimistic Troy it didn’t take long for even the most heavily glued and ‘sealed envelope’ to be steamed open by exposure to his charm, stage presence and hilarity.

McCabe and his well-honed character have experienced an explosion in popularity courtesy of social media, with Troy Hawke and his ‘Greeters Guild’ videos on TikTok, YouTube and elsewhere generating millions of views. This means he has a new and much broader audience, but unlike others who may experience rapid social media success and exposure online, McCabe has years of stage time and comedy performing experience to draw on, and it shows.

Troy told us he was performing his own twenty-minute warm-up and this turned out to be a great decision. His audience interaction doesn’t operate at the same in-your-face pace as Al Murray’s Pub Landlord, nor is it as coarse or cutting, but his gentle teasing and warm cajoling was lapped up and enjoyed immensely by the 500 strong crowd. The magic of interacting with Alan, the heavy plant engineer, is that Troy’s reply: “A heavy plant engineer, do you mean like potted ferns?” earned big laughs for quick in-character thinking more than the quality or complexity of the joke. The audience were happy to forgive or ignore McCabe’s minor geographical error for daring to suggest that the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield is part of the Black Country, as his ever confident and competent crowd work gently lured those present, through much laughter, into the warm world of daftness that awaited us after the interval.

The main act that followed the break was McCabe’s tried and tested one-hour 2022 festival show that fuses multimedia, social media and scrabble-assisted numerological coincidences that hint at something very strange. The show was sometimes educational, sometimes inspiring and uplifting, but always amusing, with no shortage of laughter. I had hoped for a different, more in-person climactic ending, rather than the video montage we were treated to. Although this might just be us witnessing a new form of entertainment created from the marriage of the online and on-stage worlds that McCabe inhabits. This was certainly a masterclass in character comedy and the £15 ticket price was a bargain that even the likes of Poundstretcher, Wetherspoons and B & Q, with or without help from the Greeters Guild, might struggle to match.

Most of the great comedy characters such as The Pub Landlord, Marcel Lucont, Count Arthur Strong, Alan Partridge, Ian Crawford etc. all have dislikeable personality traits, but Troy seems to have a warmth and positivity that promises to make him the exception to the rule. Although, his paranoid tendencies that put him at the heart of uncovering coincidences and conspiracies means that as with most people who wear smoking jackets, light trousers and brogues, and who communicate in affected tones with a slightly posh accent, we should surely proceed with caution. We saw a glimpse of a darker side when Troy tried to convince us that those overly-altruistic dopamine-junky NHS nurses have stolen enough of the limelight, and perhaps staff at Wetherspoons should get more credit. One thing is for sure, the time flew by, and the audience loved it. Whether this comedy character is a force for good or ill there was certainly comedy magic in the air on this night. Troy’s reply to the question, from an inquisitive audience member asking why he was carrying a large yellow feather, was simply “why aren’t you carrying one?” Perhaps like Dumbo who put his trust in a magic feather that allowed the elephant to fly and perform, this is McCabe’s trick. He certainly performed and his comedy took us all on a magical, fun and laughter filled, flight of fancy.