Foil, Arms and Hog: Skiddlywup at the Udderbelly, Southbank
Foil, Arms and Hog: Skiddlywup opened with a chant and ended with a standing ovation. Foil, Arms and Hog themselves may have orchestrated the chant but the final round of rapt applause, given by an audience attempting the tricky maneuver of clapping their hands while holding their sides, was entirely unprompted and utterly deserved.
The three comedians addressed the audience from the outset, wandering across seating and a deceivingly sparse stage as they bantered back and forth. The non-existent fourth wall struck fear in the hearts of even audience perched further back, but the trio’s constant charm and infectious enthusiasm ensured all were at ease. In the hour of anarchic comedy that was to follow audience participation became not so much a running theme, but the foundation and high point of each and every sketch.
The comedy struck a constantly shifting balance between the surreal and the meta, each sketch profoundly silly and unfailingly hilarious. The show was comprised of a number of relatively long sketches, spun out with a combination of improvisation and incorporation of various viewers, all kept afloat by an abundance of energy and comedic versatility on the parts of the show’s core threesome.
The sketches ranged from two bouncers on a first date, to a game of medical musical chairs, to a militantly enforced Addams family sing-along. They were interspersed with wonderfully self-deprecating “banter” sections between the comedians and the audience. It was this performer-spectator relationship, developing over the course of the show, that tied the sketches together, as opposed to any particular overarching narrative. The gleeful spontaneity of this constant, escalating crowd participation truly sets Foil, Arms and Hog apart from any currently touring sketch show. The key to this performance’s raucous success was the constant encouragement and creativity of the three leads. The viewers laughed with the chosen few brought on-stage, never at them.
The act was at its best when things went slightly awry, when audience members plucked up the confidence to pose a mild challenge to performers, forcing the freewheeling trio to rein in proceedings through a combination of world-class riffing and flashes of improvisational genius. The venue may be large, but Foil, Arms and Hog have created a show that is personal, unpredictable and, most importantly, eye-wateringly funny.
Photo: Stephen Gallagher
Foil, Arms and Hog: Skiddlywup tours at various locations nationwide from 18th June until 4th August 2016. Book your tickets here.