The Best of The Real MacGuffins

The Real MacGuffins are clearly skilled and practised performers, exuding a confident, polished stage presence from the start - playing the gracious hosts at this, a party celebrating the group's back catalogue. The sketches themselves are strong and often hilarious. A sketch about conkers used costume to great effect, and one involving a French hotel receptionist was stylishly executed and had the audience in stitches. Traditional formats, premises and classic joke structures were used with flare - the sort of sketches that wouldn't be out of place on Radio 4. The dynamic between the performers was pitch perfect: two of the group victimising the third - a classic clowning technique. These boys know exactly how to write sketch by numbers and the jokes are solid - the structures operate like clockwork.

The group have an infectious sense of fun, and the hour is enjoyable and reliably funny.

Unfortunately, the group have fallen into a trap that often burdens "best of" style shows: attempts at stringing together a narrative structure between the sketches is often confusing and ill conceived and such is true here of the overall party concept. The main storyline is interspersed with a series of flashbacks as well as a competition to get the most laughs, here disguised as a party game. Shoehorning three similar narratives, only slightly different in tone, into one show is unnecessarily complex in an already fragmented sketch format. A few of the sketches also rely too heavily on puns and simplistic wordplay to get laughs: an opening sketch about a medieval court fell flat - a disappointing opening to a generally strong show.

The Real MacGuffins have excellent comic timing, proved in a sketch which turned a simple list of fonts into a very funny gangster scene. The group have an infectious sense of fun, and the hour is enjoyable and reliably funny.

Reviews by Jane Thompson

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The Blurb

Dan, Jim and Matt proudly present their finest sketches from the last five years - for two nights only. As seen in Pramface (BBC 3), Miranda (BBC 1), Spy (Sky 1), Lee Nelson's Well Funny People (BBC 3), The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff (BBC 2) and writers for That Mitchell and Webb Sound (Radio 4). 'My favourite sketch group' (Cal McCrystal). 'Hysterically funny... utterly inspired' **** (Fest). 'Brilliantly well-crafted' **** (Chortle.co.uk). 'Insanely witty writing' ***** (ThreeWeeks).