Frisky & Mannish
at Udderbelly Festival, London
Lazy pop culture parody – it’s everywhere. *Looks at feet guiltily* But putting all conceivable competitors to shame are comedy/cabaret double act Frisky & Mannish, otherwise known as Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones.
Their intricately constructed and highly intelligent commentaries/warped impersonations of the cultural icons and moments of our times are in a different league from the rest; most probably because they're rooted in love and kindness rather than disrespect.
Yes, every song fed through the F&M filter comes out the other side somewhat slaughtered (albeit surprisingly listenable). Example: Rihanna’s Rude Boy in the style of the Bee Gees is rendered unrecognisable but belly laugh inducing. And yet, the performances are so elaborately composed and well-rehearsed – every last Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb-inspired squeak or Rihanna-esque squat is there by design – that it only underlines the pair’s detailed study of the songs/artists in question; their artistic affection for the tween stars/rock gods/divas/reality TV fools we all know and love or love to hate.
When they send up the cast of Made in Chelsea and their tendency to slur speech (“Uhm seeeeew sad right naaaaaaw”), it’s evidently only because they love the show themselves, and want to highlight how organically ridiculous and funny these people were to begin with. It’s the cast of MIC’s duty to make you laugh and smile; this show seeks to remind you how good at it they are.
But Frisky and Mannish are better. And they know it. Their confidence is inspiring; they capitalise on (rather than shy away from) the confusion and awkwardness of the newbies in attendance, thus demanding that the audience in its entirety sings the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles – over, and over, and over again, until they’re satisfied. Or, that we all of us stand up and learn the dance routine to Spice Up Your Life (as if we didn’t know it already) before telling us we were all shit at it. Or something to that effect… It’s disorientating funny, and gets funnier when what looks at face value to be obnoxiousness reveals itself to be a desire for comic courtship; they’re being rude because they want to be your friend. By the end, charmed by their silliness, you want to be theirs too.
What drives this show to a higher level of quality is the pair’s natural musical talent. Both have excellent voices; Corcoran’s perhaps slightly stronger than Floyd Jones’s, something they poke fun at in their reworkings of the most popular diva-offs of the last few decades, from Celine and Babs to Mariah and, erm, Westlife… Hats off to Floyd Jones, however, for singing/acting/body-popping/pulling funny faces while almost always at his keyboard, never getting a note wrong. They’d go far on the TV talent shows they send up, but thankfully they’re both too intelligent for that.
After all, it takes a sharp mind to spot the simplicity and potential for hilarity in performing Adele’s Someone Like You as the lyrics dictate. “I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited,” sings Corcoran, in strange, doll-like voice, before tilting her head to the side and adding, with the demonic look of a crazy ex in her eyes: “but I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it... I hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me….IT ISN’T OVER!”
Riotously poptastic comedy with a queer edge.
Udderbelly Festival (look for the giant purple cow), South Bank, London
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