Double Denim haven’t made their fringe debut easy for themselves, starting their show at nearly midnight and performing in perhaps the ugliest room in any of the major venues. The atmosphere cultivated by the Gilded Balloon Billiard Room resembles that of the rec hall on a budget cruise ship and the crowd that is watching this show are a mix of the too tired and the too drunk. It is a huge testament to their skill then that Double Denim manage to craft a highly experimental genre mashup of a sketch hour into a successful comedy show despite these obvious initial stumbling blocks. Double Denim are so committed to their performances and keen to engage the audience in an enjoyable hour that all but the most unwilling end up enjoying themselves a huge amount, even if they can’t bring themselves to join in on the post-midnight group dance.
It’s hard to believe that there are many who couldn’t be won over by this Australian sketch duo’s hour of late night laughs.
Double Denim are a sketch duo consisting of Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew who, in their self-titled debut hour, take on the roll of two pre-teen girls (or at least two women acting like pre-teen girls) preparing and hosting a wild party for all of their friends. The party has snacks, drinks, games, activities, singalongs and drama and the audience is brought into all of these things, willingly or otherwise. Whilst from less endearing, energetic performers this conceit may grate on the audience, Brasier and Frew keep the audience hugely entertained throughout and thoroughly threw themselves into their performances. Almost exhausting just to watch, the two women are constantly in motion and hilariously charming throughout.
What is most interesting about Double Denim is the show’s mashup of two very different sensibilities. It features many sketches, songs and moments of audience interaction seemingly designed for a late night crowd of rowdy walk-ins unfamiliar with sketch comedy and wanting nothing more than a simple fun time. However, it also features occasional sketches of surreal, absurd sketch comedy that handled without deft precision would completely fall flat with the kind of crowd they are presented with. But Double Denim have structured their show well enough that at no point does either the alternative comedy connoisseur or the late night variety fan feel alienated. Although there is the occasional moment that lands flat, for the most part the show is impressively daring in its flirtations with absurdism.
Double Denim is a show written for its awkward placement in the Gilded Balloon line-up. Full of moments of potential awkwardness, the affable duo at its heart manage to mine gold from even the least willing of audience participants. Those immune to awkward likeability may not quite see the full appeal of Double Denim, but it’s hard to believe that there are many who couldn’t be won over by this Australian sketch duo’s hour of late night laughs.