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Loose Brie Are Great
The Aces and Eights
5th August 2017

★★☆☆☆

Martin Willis and Phil Lindsey

Photography provided by Loose Brie

It's impressive to have a full house for an 11.30 show at the Aces and Eights, which everyone knows is the chief graveyard slot of the Camden Fringe. A great start for the confidently titled Loose Brie Are Great. However, in hindsight, I suspect many of the punters just happened to be there, following the earlier excellent comedy show Improv Deathmatch. Or possibly they were just looking for somewhere to sit down, given how packed the pub upstairs was. Who knows? The number of people there for the gig just doesn't tally with the less than kind reception granted to comedy double act Martin Willis and Phil Lindsey.

The audience claps a reasonable amount of times and even dutifully cheer "great" on demand, but their enthusiasm noticeably wanes as we get closer to midnight and the jokes don't get any funnier. A conversation starts, a splinter group forms and, at one point, there are four separate discussions taking place. They're not even heckling Willis and Lindsey; it's as if the comedians have become mere background noise to them as they chat about the cost of catching the ferry to Ireland. Normally my sympathies would lie with the performers for having such a tough crowd, but honestly? I'm also losing interest and rapidly regretting staying out.

You're never going to get a sophisticated, alert group of people at that time of night, but that doesn't exempt comedians from lazy writing, with the audience sensing they've been cheated, even with the mildly booze-impaired reaction times. I get the impression that this show, just like brie, goes down better when paired with a lot of wine. Quite a lot of wine. Writing something to appeal only to the most inebriated of patrons shows a distinct lack of ambition. A physical joke about playing music badly is drawn out too long, with Lindsey desperately trying to at least use the saxophone to disguise the audience chitter chatter. Sadly, it doesn't work.

Appreciative laughs are reserved for gags where the two men hurt and humiliate each other in Eurotrash inspired gross-out scenes and every time they complain about the people talking through their show. It turns out that, as well as copious amounts of alcohol, a healthy dose of Schadenfreude is instrumental to getting the most out of Loose Brie. I'm not even sure that the audience are enjoying the comedy in the same vein someone might laugh at the puerile self-inflicted harm in Jackass, rather I don't think they like the men on stage very much. It's a fascinatingly strange stand-off watching the comedians and the disruptive audience members, with both sides clearly feeling the other should leave and neither backing down. This is very much a different kind of show than the one I thought I had come to see.

Willis and Lindsey's confidence levels are great. Truly. They have a horribly difficult room (admittedly, this is largely their fault, their lack of strong material making the room restless) and yet don't give up, ploughing on with what they have come to perform. Their determination is great, their delivery similarly is committed and there is actually something there in the concept of creating a show about confidence delivered by their overly confident stage personas. The jokes that carry this idea are however under-developed and stretched far too thin.

Immature and half-baked, Loose Brie Are Great is not without its potential. Just, next time, Willis and Lindsey need a better recipe if they want the outcome to brie well-received.

Loose Brie Are Great ran from 31st July to 5th August 2017 at the Aces and Eights, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Tuffnell Park (Northern)



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