Old school gags and greatness

The Smooth End of the Pineapple (Mango-a-Gogo Productions Ltd)

Lock ‘n’ Load

May 7 – 24

“It’s old school dad jokey stuff from a couple of guys,” (#inagoodway) is how I described “The Smooth End of the Pineapple” to the friend with whom I was seeing the show. And afterwards, she reported that it was a perfect description of a show that sees its performers deliver comedy sketches in an audio format like an old radio show. Think of the show as a cross between Monty Python and The Goons. And it is with Python-esque trademark madness that Matt Bell and Scot McPhie present for the audience’s listening pleasure, their “eighth debut performance of comedy sketches”.

From this premise, the duo launches into a series of sketches that largely range from the random to the bizarre (#inagoodway). With some amusing use of props, hats and wigs, Matt Bell, in particular, transforms into all range of characters, from workplace pirate to Russian debt-collector and Scottish beautician Jock the Bastard. Indeed, the fact that their portrayal of multiple characters and shift between characters is handled so deftly, despite the need for a few ad libs, is what makes the production that much more impressive.

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Like a good mix tape, sketch shows depend on rhythm and while some of sketches labour on a bit too long, there is still much to be enjoyed for those who like their humour with witty word plays, puns and innuendo. Skits range from the identifiably of dealing with voice recognition on the phone to the absurdism of Superman’s home life thanks to a passive aggressive Louis Lane.

It is clear that the duo has an affinity with and empathy for the medium, with the result being a comedy record for when you don’t have a record player. As such, “The Smooth End of the Pineapple” represents the power of parody and greatness of old school gags. It makes for a great comedy romp that is sure to provide a different favourite for everyone in its audience.

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Pineappled Python

The Smooth End of the Pineapple (Bell & McPhie)

“The Smooth End of the Pineapple” is a sketch comedy show of the (Monty) Pythonesque type, however, its series of 20 unrelated sketches are presented in audio-only form, like in radio programs of old. Indeed, with the addition of a sound effect artist (Mitchell Poloni) performing the effects live on stage from balloons, buckets, bells and alike, the show is much like The Goon Show on yesteryear. This adds much to the sketches’ ludicrous plots, puns and overall appeal, making for a unique and ultimately very funny theatre experience.

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This isn’t as it first appears, a three-man show; it’s a multiple-man-and-woman show. And thanks to a wig, a hat and a lot of different voices, Matt Bell and Scot McPhie are all of them – courtesy of their nuanced delivery of an array of accents. From an okka Aussie to a straight-talking Scott, each sketch has its own unique tone. The result is a fast moving, witty and committed show of the old school sort, complete with bow ties and ‘boom boom’ punch lines. However, there is also a maturity and sophistication behind the show’s absurdity, particularly in its existential consideration (are zero and infinity the same thing?) and sexy calculus song.

Sketches are of various lengths and effects. Of note, are the ‘shop’ scenes, ‘Backward Shop’ and ‘Trickster Shop’, which are inhabited by that Monty Python idiosyncratic sense of surreality seen in The Flying Circus’ Dead Parrot and Cheese Shop sketches. Indeed, this is proven, reliable comedy and it is actually quite refreshing to see an independent show sans a token topical Campbell Newman quip.

“The Smooth End of the Pineapple” is not high-art by any means; however, it is a guaranteed a great time. As a re-inventive take on classic cult comedy, it will certainly lead you to look at life from a different direction.

You can find all of my Anywhere Theatre Festival reviews on the Festival website.