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You Can't Have Us
The Phoenix Artist Club
13th August 2013

★★☆☆☆

Jethro Bradley and Peter Edwards

Photography supplied by Peter Edwards

You can't have us? If anything, you can have Peter Edwards and Jethro Bradley; the name of their show isn't the most apt. In a wonderfully bohemian move, there was no attempt to check tickets or guest lists, as we all just wandered into the back room of the Phoenix Artist Club, hoping for some fresh new comedy.

Edwards kicked the show off, by trying his hand at compering, before giving the stage to Jetho Bradley, who opened with a rather long and unfunny joke about fellating a tramp. The payoff just isn't worth it, and it's a painfully slow start. It's not until the second third that Bradley finds his feet, and delivers some laughs with his experiment into the most romantic accent. The timing wasn't always perfect, but this was down to the techs, rather than Bradley himself.

Edwards is marginally more successful, trying a self-deprecating tack. He digs deep for the laughs, no subject matter off-topic, bringing up his father's death and an awkward encounter on the train with a rather cute guy that could have led to something more, if not for an urgent diversion.

At the start of Edwards' set, he jokes about having to do ten fringe shows before becoming competent, and You Can't Have Us being his very first one. This is less of a gag and more a truth - the material and slightly awkward handovers between Edwards and Bradley showing their inexperience. However, both performers come across reasonably calm and assured - if on any level they were bricking it, it never showed - and that's the harder skill to acquire. You can always get help with your writing and keep this a secret, but you can't get someone to cover for a lack of stage presence with the audience noticing you're hiding behind a curtain. No, both men have something about them, there is definite potential yet.

Edwards gets more laughs when he's playing the underdog card, tapping into that very British love of failure. With his very laidback style, he's never going to emulate the likes of David Morgan, which is fine, but he needs to sharpen his jokes. He has a great deadpan delivery, just need some better lines to deliver. As for Bradley, he's at his best when playing a character, here evident in his portray of Professor Stienstornstein. With a versatile look and voice, sketch comedy would be a more natural fit for him than pure standup.

It's always a wrench writing a two-star review, particularly when the targets seem like genuinely lovely blokes, but it would be unfair to suggest they were as polished as, say, Pete Dillon-Trenchard, another underdog Pete, but whose Camden Fringe show was punchier and more self-deprecating. This comment isn't limited to Edwards and Bradley - many of the comedy offerings this year have just not been ready for critical review. Some of the jokes in You Can't Have Us don't work - that tramp joke, for instance - and need to be cut completely,whereas others just need tightening.

They can't have a glowing review, but this comedy duo can surely have better days ahead of them. They seem to have the personality for the stage, now they just need to work at their craft a bit more.

You Can't Have Us ran from 12th to 14th August 2013 at the Phoenix Artist Club, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road (Northern, Central)



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