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Hills and Weedon – Edinburgh Festival review
Hills and Weedon just aren't good enough, says Paul Fleckney
For the second time in a few days I find myself writing a review of a musical comedy act where I was about the only person in the room to think it was a load of rubbish. Hills and Weedon are a very different proposition to Jonny and the Baptists, but my conclusion is about the same – it's novelty, not comedy. An accidental con trick. At least JatB have the room-bulging charisma of Jonny.
This is landfill entertainment – underdeveloped ideas put to song with uninspired banter in-between, plus some assorted clichés (a dinosaur impression, a shirt whipped off, a song about porn), some deliberately bad jokes, an utterly fruitless stab at improv, and a lazy rape gag to top it off – it's just not good enough. It's like we're kids having shiny things constantly shoved in our face to keep us from eating a beermat.
A stand-up wouldn't get away with the material musical comics get away with. So long as there's a guitar in the building, all bets are off. One joke about cancer was so weak it wouldn't change the colour of your tea. To be clear – I don't have an aversion to musical comedy, I have an aversion to bad comedy. And to be clear on something else: ironic, self-aware, enthusiastically delivered bad jokes are still bad jokes.
One classic musical comedy trap Hills and Weedon fall into is that of writing fully formed songs. I can only assume that it's because they come from a background of songwriting, and so are used to being musically comprehensive, but snatches of a song or one verse and chorus is so much more effective. Their Doctor Who and Call Of Duty songs could have been chopped in half without losing much impact. As a general rule, just get in there, tell the gag, and move on.
For all my banging on about joke-writing, it is, I admit, only one aspect of comedy, even if it is the one that virtually all comedy boils down to. Hills and Weedon have some things on their side. The crowd, for instance. I can't ignore the fact that most people had a good time. The pair injected enough energy and cheer to get people onside – exactly the sort of verve that comedians need – and they could take on a bigger room than the Jekyll and Hyde's pokey back room.
Now, for the love of god go and write some material.
Review written by Paul Fleckney