Hey everyone Last Friday night as I searched for a show to attend I was flyered by a young English girl as I stood at the junction where the North Bridge meets the mile. This is itself is in no way remarkable I tend to get flyered by a lot of people of all ages and nationalities during the madness of that is and always will be a vital part of the Edinburgh festival fringe.
Now I don’t know why but this time it felt different. Maybe because this particular woman could if gabbing had been included as a sport in the Commonwealth Games won multiple gold medals for her country. Maybe it was because the sun was shining in the early evening sky and despite being in its last few days there was still an air of optimism in the voices of the performers. Maybe it was because she a had one of those winning smiles and a great line in chat. Or maybe, just maybe, it was for all of these reasons and half a million more that I promised her I would come to the Cowgate caves and see the show in which she was starring with her friend.
The show had the rather strange but catchy title All Our Friends Are Dead but believe me this stars of it were very much alive and in my opinion touched by the hand of genius. Now those of you who know me well will know I usually hate sketch comedy. From Monty Python and The Young Ones, to the more recent adventures of Little Britain this genre is usually an automatic turn off. However this time it was different and I said to the girls after the show in the words of Simon Cowell ‘I didn’t like it, I loved it’ From the opening song entitled Everybody Wants To Be A Twat they had me laughing and thinking in equal measure till they took their final bows after an action packed hour which was entertaining from beginning to end.
In the second sketch Part Of Your World Kate was lamenting the difficulty of being both female and funny with challenging ideas on sexism and stereotypes as to why it’s always the male comedians who get the breaks. I really loved this idea because like it or not comedy is different for girls and that is unfair. There are as the sketch alludes to glass ceilings made of glass which is so thick that women find it difficult even to dent let alone shatter. This kind of subtlety got the audience thinking and empathising on an issue which urgently needs to be addressed in the fight for gender equality.
This was followed by one of the most brilliantly innovative twists I’ve ever seen in any show. As The girls introduced the audience to Jackie Cooper Clarke. Now it doesn’t take mastermind to figure out that this character is based on the legendary northern English punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Being a fan of the great man I was intrigued to see where this would go and I have to say I was delighted at what I found. This dynamic duo decided to place Jackie in a primary school where she was performing her northern work which had a few swear words again a very authentic touch having been booked by the school’s prim and proper head teacher Cathy Cuntingham. This naturally had hilarious results with Jackie challenging Cathy to show the naughty side which she had obviously repressed.
In The Farmer Wants A Wife we were taken to Ireland and the green fields of Carlow where we here the story of Paddy a farmer who gambled his wife and lost her to another man. Originally his wife did want to leave him but she never lives in happiness county Donegal. Funny as this was in tragic sort of way there is a moral to this story which is don’t gamble with anything or for that matter anyone you can’t afford to lose. And guys believe me when I say there is a lot of truth in the song you never miss a woman till she’s gone.
From Ireland we went to Lithuania where we heard the tragic story of Arushka whose fall from Eurovision winner at the tender age of 12 to a live a life of drink, debauchery and man hunting. Let this fictional tale be a warning to anyone who fancies entering Eurovision, The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. Fame has a price and that price can be cruel Well I ask myself would I want to want to turn in to the new overnight sensation? If I’m honest probably not and this completely non PC look at this topic was tragi-comic genius at the very highest level.
As the show reached its mid way point there was another outstanding song which summed up the mood of the nation. Poor Unfortunate Souls ruthlessly ripped the Conservative government orthodoxy on the idea of the austerity and us all being in it together totally and completely. Needless to say this went down very well with the audience and especially a certain SNP card holder who is now Norris And Parker’s new number one fan. Putting on Etonian public school accents they mocked the government mockery of the poor and the vulnerable within our country and exposed their myths and lies with brilliantly biting social commentary unparalleled since the days of The Two Ronnie’s, Wood And Walters, or if like me your Scottish since the late Ricky Fulton laughed us in to the bells with Scotch And Wry.
Next up it was Brian the mullet wearing northerner and his hairdresser Trish. This sketch asked lots of questions on social etiquette and the so-called value of keeping up perceived appearances whilst also challenging the mysterious disappearances such as that of Brian’s wife Julie and other unresolved issues such as Brian’s secret baldness. Yes this show went to sensitive places that others wouldn’t risk and I for one am glad that it did.
Having taking the rise out of the North of England Sinead then had a date with the audience in her search to find a man. This was a brilliant piece of audience engagement and participation. Her song about chicken was witty and clever and made me think about the lengths I might go to in my quest to get a man. Well they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach so why not start by taking him to Nando’s.
As every woman knows when we get a man we sometimes have to man him up on occasions and where better to do this than Lynee’s mancademy. This is where men like Paul who is was too weak and wimpy come to get toughened up. It is no secret that Lynee enjoys her work and people like Paul enjoys more than he would let on. Could this be another dig at the political classes who if we are to be believe certain tabloid newspapers go to these places to be dominated by their mistresses at regular intervals. You know what I rather think it might be.
For the final act in this breathtaking show we were treated to the Tydsley Widows Choir. In what I think was send up of the Woman’s Institute and the blue rinse or what we in Scotland would call the fur coat and nae knickers brigade Norris And Parker treat us to a rousing rendition of Circle Of Shite and in doing so remind us how bad and more importantly how absurd life can actually be and why laughter really is the best medicine known to women. Ok then, I’ll say humankind if I absolutely must but why not just be honest and tell it like it is.
At the end of that particular circle the show had come full circle and reached its conclusion. As two of the most talented performers I have ever seen took their well deserved well deserved final bows, I finally got the chance to draw breath for the first time in an hour and fully appreciate the talent I had just seen in what and I have no qualms about saying this was easily the best show I managed to see in the madness that was Edinburgh 2015. Make no mistake Norris And Parker are going to be big and if talent speaks louder than privilege they are going to be global. The show may have been titled All Of Our Friends Are Dead but these two talented women are alive with talent and totally believe they will not only reach for the stars they will actually touch them and turn them into gold.
This breathtaking hour of entertaining excellence was the perfect way to start a weekend and I must admit to enjoying the girls unique take on life. This was a show which went where others wouldn’t dare and I was truly glad I went to see it, because from Mullets to Mancademy’s to changing the gender of poets, the brilliance of stars who shone on the stage gave me the feel good factor.
Love And Best Wishes