Life is a lottery. We entered this world thanks to happy accidents, while unhappy accidents will see some of us exit, silenced by falling pianos and serial killers. The partner you marry; your roommate-turned-bestie; the country whose national anthem you proudly sing: all down to chance and serendipity.
It’s the same with the fringe. You pay your money, you take your chances. Or to put it more accurately, you stumble blindly through Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, accept the flyer that’s thrust into your palm and wind up enduring an hour of sketch comedy inside a wigwam because you were too polite to scream ‘But I only came here for Ed Byrne and the 5am drinking!’
On this occasion, however, you’re in luck. Stumble into Bar 50 at 1pm and you’ll chance across Frimston and Rowett: A Sketch Show. It’s free, it’s funny and it doesn’t clash with that A-list comedian who compelled you to travel here in the first place.
Five minutes in and you may find yourself opining that the duo are rather good for a free act performing in a Cowgate hostel. Ten minutes in and you’ll be laughing heartily at their Fireman Sam routine. 15 minutes in and you’ll rue having previously shelled out £17 for a show that was half as good. Half an hour in and you’ll be wondering how it’s possible to have so much fun at 1:30pm, an hour at which the ebullience can’t be chalked down to drink.
Rob Frimston and Ed Rowett are the perfect double act: one’s uptight and posh, the other’s shambolic and slightly less posh. Rowett is a stickler for convention; Frimston is so laid back he’s usually horizontal and shirtless.
The duo rifle through sketches involving Postman Pat and Bono before pondering the confusing nature of wise-guy nicknames. Milk gets spilt somewhere along the way. Rob gets his top off. Then later some additional layers hit the floor. 45 minutes in, they peak with an inspired ‘palindrome sketch’ whose dialogue also works in reverse before climaxing with Ask Jeeves, the prudish butler who balks at scouring the web for porn.
It’s not easy creating an atmosphere when the stage lighting has two settings – on and off – and your comedic pauses are drowned out by the chatter from the next room. The double team are not to be deterred however, manfully squabbling all the way through to a deserved applause.
With tighter opening sketches or a couple more pints, this would have been four-star fare. Instead, it’s a highly respectable three. Frimston and Rowett are a happy accident just waiting to happen. Stumble inside and see for yourself.