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Dan & Joe: People You Love to Hate
The Drayton Theatre
31st July 2014


Joe Johnsey and Daniel Collrd

Photography supplied by Dan & Joe

When you think about it, sketch comedy is an obvious sideways step for actors who spend a lot of time doing short plays. Daniel Collard and Joe Johnsey have certainly already had that thought, with the two performers teaming up for debut show Dan & Joe: People You Love to Hate. As the title implies, Collard and Johnsey have penned and perform a series of short sketches involving call centre operators, estate agents and other such people that us Brits generally hold in contempt. After all, what unites us as a nation is sipping cups of tea and grumbling about politicians.

It's true that their writing does lean heavily on laughs of recognition, with the initial call centre scenario making us chuckle because we've all been there, desperately trying to make it past our own security checks and failing miserably. I don't know about you, but I was once left howling in frustration when my bank hung up on me because they didn't believe I was me. However, it's just a way to ease us in, with the pair being smarter than just using familiarity to win us over; there are some flashes of real wit that follow and a great delivery throughout.

Throwaway lines - such as Johnsey claiming to have never learnt the months of the year - hit us unexpectedly and have us in fits of laughter. Johnsey has a wonderfully vacant deer in the headlights gaze, which is matched only by Collard's mock frustration. Although I've seen both actor/comedians on stage before, I must confess, I hadn't considered putting the two of them together, but they do complement each other very well. Collard plays 'the posh one' and Johnsey 'the dumb one' with their exaggerated characterisation making for a very natural double act.

Some of the better parts come when the pair put more of their real selves into the joke - a sketch involving Collard and Johnsey jamming together on guitar and vocals is what first really got me genuinely giggling. There are a few references to pop culture like Game of Thrones and the World Cup, but the writing largely mocks more established ideas, like lettings agents being rats. The format of the show is good, all the sketches link together well, and both men have a very strong sense of comic timing, but some of the material could be more topical and tightened up slightly.

Collard and Johnsey commit to their craft, throwing themselves around energetically and quickly moving from one persona to the next. Given their acting experience, they're both comfortable being the centre of attention and get the room on side quickly. With a few tweaks to the writing, they could go on to be rather successful - with this only their first show, it's a hugely promising start for the duo. Never mind hate, I'd love to see what they do next.

Dan & Joe: People You Love to Hate opened on 31st July and runs until 1st August 2014 at the Drayton Theatre.

Nearest tube station: Gloucester Road (Piccadilly, Circle, District)

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