Archie Maddocks: Shirts Vs Skins

Poignant, inventive and razor sharp describes Archie Maddocks’ debut show at the Fringe. Shirts vs Skins, explores the conflict of being mixed race and the pressure of choosing a side. What is undeniable is Archie’s stage presence, which bolts people into the action and keeps them strapped in for the ride. From raisins to jihadis, there’s not much that isn’t deliberated in this hour.

This London comic’s show contains a balance of style and substance that leaves food for thought.

Storytelling is the style of comedy that suits Archie most and, as someone who has a talent for impersonations, the tales come to life when he becomes his characters, with sketches including the many ways he is continually mistaken for other ethnic groups (ironically enhanced by the fact he turned up dressed like a Cuban musician with a straw fedora, linen shirt etc).

Particular personas to note are his Mexican mafia casino owner, an old Arab man at a mosque and a African American telling him why he isn’t black, each with their own story illustrating Archie’s identity crisis. The most powerfully unifying moment for Archie was when he enlightened, what seemed to be fifty per cent of the audience, where prunes, raisins and sultanas came from. It was just one of his observational lines that was delivered with the winning combination of wit, stupidity and charm.

But this hour not just all about characterisation and there are two themes are clearly identifiable within this show, that of race and loneliness. Archie admits, quite refreshingly that firstly, he needs to try to no longer use race as a crutch for when things go wrong and secondly, that it’s okay to admit you’re lonely.

Nerves start appearing when Archie looks to be second-guessing his material and as a result speeds and trips over his words, causing the punchline of a joke to be weakened. The layout of the Mata Hari space at Espionage means there is often commotion taking place in the back of the room, which did seem at times to distract the comic. Ignoring the background hissing will only help to keep an audience eating out the palm of his hand.

Overall, this London comic’s show contains a balance of style and substance that leaves food for thought.

Reviews by Sophia Charalambous

C venues – C


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The Blurb

This is the debut show of award-winning and fiendishly good-looking dynamo love guru genius superhero* Archie Maddocks. Being mixed race, he’s always felt a pressure to pick a team. Join him as he explores the crashing together of two separate worlds and where he fits in, or fits out (is that a thing?) within them. *None of this is true. Except award-winning. That’s totally true. ‘Terrifically clever’ ( ‘A real highlight of the evening’ (BBC Introducing). ‘Surely destined to rise through the ranks in the next few years' (Evening Standard).