Or, to give the show its full title, Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches! It’s one of the more unwieldy show titles of Fringe 2016, and probably the most Ronseal. Twenty-year Fringe veteran Burns has been co-presenting this mix of puns and Power Point for four years now, along with “the worst wrestler in WWE history” Colt Cabana.
Now a late-night staple, Burns and Cabana pile-drive through a plethora of vintage clips. The tone is irreverent and cheerfully shambolic. A less polished show you would be hard-pressed to find, and this is cheerfully acknowledged by its hosts. Perhaps the best comparison would be a pugilistic version of the chummy, affectionate air of Baddiel and Skinner’s Fantasy Football League.
Anyone familiar with Burns’ brand of stand-up may be slightly surprised at how relaxed he comes across in this environment. Frequently confrontational on stage, here he seems like he’s enjoying a chat with mates, and there just happens to be a crowd watching. While you would expect wrestler Cabana to play the straight man to Burns’ boisterous persona, he more than holds his own. He proves to be witty and winningly self-effacing, fully embracing the ludicrous nature of his chosen profession. He even goes as far as selecting a clip in which he comes a cropper with a recalcitrant chair for the audience’s delectation and mockery.
Each night the duo are joined by a guest, and this evening is the turn of stand-up Des Clarke. He dives straight into the chaotic banter, and with his Glaswegian tones he sounds wonderfully like Paul Higgins‘ iconic Jamie in The Thick of It has turned his hand to spandex and suplexes.
It is admittedly, a niche show. One would imagine it to be an identical crowd to that making up the audience for Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s appearance at The Stand. It is a rickety, ramshackle affair and the subject will not be to everyone’s taste. Fans of Brendon Burns’ stand-up may be better served by his daily free show, but for those nostalgic for the halcyon days of of Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, or even Giant Haystacks or Kendo Nagasaki, this is a late-night treat.