The line of excited punters outside Nicholson Hall is long. I mean, ridiculously long. Every new person joining the end of the line is surprised and cautious; ‘Is this really the line for Foil Arms and Hog?’ It seems that, because much of the audience here tonight will have discovered the Irish comedy trio via their phenomenally successful YouTube videos (each ending in a rendition of ‘Doomdah!’), it’s all too easy to trick oneself into thinking that FAH are one’s own little secret: no-one truly comprehends what the ‘Over A Million Hits On YouTube’ really means.
Warm, engaging, and genuinley charismatic
Also on the posters is a line declaring that it’s the live shows that the boys are really proud of (as opposed to the aforementioned videos). It may sound like a slightly plaintive plea for legitimate recognition, but it’s a fair point. And it’s revealing that in this (very) large room, and with this (very) large crowd, the boys are more than adept at rising to the challenge. They’re warm, engaging, and genuinely charismatic. Indeed, it takes them about ten minutes to stop chatting with the audience and get on with the first sketch. They get involved with a critic who hasn’t been quite quick enough to hide their notebook, and lead several hundred people in a rousing bout of applause for a delighted looking woman who’s brought the boys some home-made chocolate and dried fruit muffins (‘Urgh, I hate dried fruit’ comes the joking response). Of course, the dried cynical heart of this critic has at least considered the possibility that these audience members are plants to explore some ‘spontaneous’ comedy. It’s doubtful – it’s all too natural – but frankly, even if it is a scripted trick, it doesn’t matter. There’s such easy joy in the room that the trio could do pretty much what they wanted.
This means that it’s genuinely lovely that they do a lot more than they have to. There are some genius gags that – as tradition dictates – we can’t reveal in too much detail here, many of which are doing double, or even triple duty. There’s not precisely call-backs, but there are gags that subtly train the audience to get to a later joke even quicker. A conceit in this show is that each sketch is ended with a hit on the high hat from a drum kit (thereby replacing ‘doom-dah’ with ‘boom-tish’). Normally at the fringe, this would be highly annoying (we’ve witnessed enough improv performers slapping the stage while shouting ‘SCENE’), but here – largely again due to the genuine charm of the cast – they get away with it, and it’s a neat way of punctuating the scenes for an audience that may well be more used to watching these guys on their phones.
At the beginning of the show, they discover someone in the front row is from Dublin. ‘We play Dublin all the time,’ they respond in mock confusion. But it’s true that the Fringe is a very special place to catch them, and they’ll send you out into the Edinburgh streets with a big smile on your faces.