The Box, George Square

Comedy sketch duo (trio, if you include their invisible horse, Midnight), Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher, hail from Atlanta, Georgia, and call themselves BriTANick (it rhymes with Titanic). They are currently appearing in an adapted shipping container on George Square, much to Nick’s evident disgust, but the place is sold out tonight and the punters are lapping it up.

“Brian” is the more driven of the two, intent on pursuing his art and attaining his goals, while “Nick” has clearly been created for the sole purpose of putting his partner’s dreams through the shredder, mostly by whingeing about stuff: the flight attendant who gave him inferior seats on the flight to Edinburgh; the fact that he and his wife had agreed to have no sexual contact until their wedding – which has already been postponed for two years because of the pandemic; he’s not a happy bunny.

Sketch comedy is notoriously difficult to get right but McElhaney and Kocher do an excellent job of it – they are confident performers, adept at incorporating whatever happens into their show. A couple of late arrivals find themselves featured at one point to much hilarity. They also have a flair for the surreal – Midnight is the first invisible horse we haven’t seen at this year’s Fringe. The sketches are wide ranging, skipping effortlessly from Pythonesque whimsy to clever character studies, and their post-modernist approach to taboo subjects allows them to get away with material that, in less skilled hands, might make audiences uncomfortable.

Of course, the acid test is does it make you laugh? And the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ I spend the hour giggling, chortling, sniggering and yes, even laughing out loud at some of their more absurd antics. I particularly enjoy an extended thread about dreams. Is Brian really going out with Salma Hayek? Is that an invisible knife I don’t see before me? Only one sketch (a piece abut man-snogging) feels a little over-extended, but most sequences are short and punchy and I do admire the way they keep drawing a line through to earlier sketches to ensure that everything, no matter how disparate, hangs together as a whole.

Audiences hungry for laughter – and let’s face it, after recent world events, that’s most of us – will find it waiting for them in a metal box on George Square. Grab your tickets, form an orderly queue and head inside… but mind you don’t step on Midnight’s tail.

4 stars

Philip Caveney


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