Sketch show/Comedy, Paradise Palms, Venue 411a, 13:10 until 30th August.
F-Holes sounds like a fun idea. It’s sketch comedy with a live orchestra, all for free. Both the actors and the musicians are clearly talented, and it shows that the group have been rehearsing carefully to create a polished show. Yet it falls flat at the final hurdle: the humour.
The jokes are mostly either overdone or flat. The introductory song is just that, and it gets lost because the energy just isn’t there. The running joke about giving people STDs which crops up in songs throughout lends nothing new to a theme which has been ‘explored’ all over the comedy circuit for decades. It may as well not be there anyway, since it seems to be just filler.
Few sketches are memorable and most contain material which seems to be lifted directly from 2010, when taking the piss out of hipsters was actually fun and exciting and jokes about the coalition government could be funny no matter how lazy they were. It was also disappointing that the orchestra wasn’t used more creatively. With a song mocking ukulele players (which is again very dated material) and some classy backing music, it’s hard not to think that the orchestra is simply a gimmick.
The show isn’t a total disaster. The Tale of Johnny Fisher sketch manages to be a laugh out loud mockery of a son’s ambition to take on fishing as his forefathers did when he is, in fact, terrible. It’s a highlight, save for a joke about the 2015 Glasgow School of Art fire (in which they also get the school’s name wrong), which for many Glasgow folk is far too soon. Their version of Girl From Ipanema which turns into a critique of street harassment is spot-on and very confidently performed. Their ‘intermission’ song is also a class example of silliness and does a good job of poking fun at the Fringe concept of one hour shows. The final twenty minutes, after a dull beginning, are a welcome breath of fresh air.
A decent twenty minutes in an hour-long show with a lot of potential is not enough. Go and see F-Holes and you can brag about the fact that you saw these performers when they were still students once you inevitably start seeing them on BBC panel shows in ten years’ time. But they must do a lot of work before they can get to that point in the university comedians’ career trajectory. If F-Holes stop using dated themes for jokes without doing something interesting with them, if they can use their orchestra more creatively and as a more vital part of the show, and if they can write material more relevant to now than to 2010, then they could really get somewhere.
Image: F-Holes/Perry Jonsson