One year older and none the wiser, Irish comedy trio Foil, Arms & Hog are back again at Edinburgh Fringe with their new show Swines, prepped for the 2019 season. Last year I saw them about 2 weeks in their run, and they wasted no time in drawing attention to my Fringe media pass. This time, I caught one of their preview shows.
The boys keep up the audience interaction that was present last year. It obviously works- the audience are both on the edge of their seats hoping they won’t be made fun of, but are also secretly hoping they are involved in a bit. It creates a very joyful atmosphere to kick off the show. As it was a preview, the boys allowed themselves a little more fun than usual – calling out latecomers, picking up pints, chasing those who had gone on toilet trips.
Once the scripted sketches start to roll, I felt that it was lacking some of the slickness I was accustomed to last year. However, when small mistakes were made – line drops, one of the three being on the wrong side of the stage for a scene, or playing a dummy note in a sketch about Beethoven and his little-known partner Barry – are played up for laughs. They mess up in a charismatic way, and as it is a preview, we immediately forgive them.
When they launch into one of their original songs, about Brexit, my heart fills with dread. The Fringe hasn’t even begun and I’ve seen more than enough posters for comedy shows riffing on Brexit. However, I was pleasantly surprised by a unique Irish perspective- and by the very impressive patter verse about all the countries the UK has colonised. One of their other songs, about an overzealous mother and her 43-year-old virgin son, left a little something to be desired. When the boys could sense a scene beginning to fall flat, they would expertly insert a joke from earlier in the show, or involve an audience member. They play very well to both their strengths and weaknesses.
The trio are undeniably funny, and I think they benefit greatly from not taking themselves too seriously – even their blunders made me laugh, and to be that is the true measure of a comedian.
Foil, Arms, and Hog: Swines is on from August 2-26 – buy tickets here.