Continental Fistfight at the Soho Theatre
Comedy duo Rubberbandits’ unnerving stage personas seem to threaten more of a subversive edge to their show that never really arrives. Actually it turns out, beneath the plastic bags that wrap around the duo’s faces balaclava-style, that they’re really quite sweet.
Having racked up millions of views on YouTube and become something of a sensation in their native Ireland, Mr Chrome (real name Bob McGlynn) and Blindboy Boatclub (Dave Chambers) have secured a run at the Soho Theatre for their new musical Continental Fistfight. The duo’s schtick is maybe best summed up as a slightly more crass version of Lonely Island with white-boy comedy rap that skewers the macho bluster of gangsta rap by rhyming about awkward social mores and sexual insecurities.
Joined on stage by Willie O’DJ, an MC who presides over proceedings in a rubber mask of Irish politician Willie O’Dea, the first track out of the bag is I Like to Shift Girls. Backed by a projection of the accompanying music video, it sets the tone for the evening. “Shifting” is slang for kissing, and the lyrics celebrate the advantages of never taking things further than first base.
Continental Fistfight is basically a gig laced together with some knockabout banter between the pair. While the pitter patter never really takes off, most of the songs do hit the mark – in particular, Spoiling Ivan, which may be the group’s finest moment thus far. A winningly catchy bubblegum pop song, it’s a story of a man who befriends a six-year-old boy and yet dashes audience expectations by never offering up a paedophilic punchline. It showcases not only the Rubberbandits’ lyrical dexterity but also their none-too-shabby musical chops.
Sometimes though, the mixture of ironic naivety and borderline bad taste is upset and the show does come slightly unstuck. The Abortion Song falls back onto a subject that has long been a lazy comedian’s go-to, and the penultimate track, which takes the form of a vaudeville knees-up about gay sex, is just crass, and crucially, unfunny.
For the most part though, Continental Fistfight shows the Rubberbandits are more than capable of transplanting their humour onto the stage. As long as the songs remain funny, they have nothing to worry about.
Rubberbandits: Continental Fistfight is at the Soho Theatre until 22nd February 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the video for I Like to Shift Girls here: