The Thinking Drinkers have created a winning formula: show + drinks. There’s a sense that you’re getting more for your money when four spirits and a full can of beer is included in the ticket price. And there’s a participatory element to sharing a tasting session en masse while being entertained with some amusing repartee. In fact it’s surprising that there’s not more of this sort of thing on the fringe, given that multi-sensory experiences and food and drink festivals are so popular at the moment.
Successful drinks journalists Tom and Ben have the alcoholic comedy experience nailed though, having been producing various incarnations of the format at the Fringe since 2011. They know and love their stuff and we learn many fascinating facts – along with some silly ones- about the history of booze. The piece is an interesting mix, there’s plenty of lad humour and trashy jokes for the weekend audiences, but there’s no doubt that they’re sophisticated connoisseurs (and encourage us to be too) as well as being responsible alcohol ambassadors with the motto “drink less drink better”.
At times the script is weak: particularly the opening scene using puppets, a neanderthal character, and some crass visual jokes about Islam and Christianity; but otherwise it’s interesting, celebratory and fun. Particular highlights are a game where we hear songs and have to guess whether the composer was/is a drinker or teetotaller, a simple but very funny and intriguing segue and a glorious ending that has us conga-ing out of the venue.
The pair are very good off piste. A little bit of audience participation paves the way for this, as does the odd inevitable heckle from an audience who’ve been drinking neat spirits. This was a Tuesday night, but it would be a great deal of fun to see how they handle their no doubt livelier and more bevvied-up weekend audiences. As they have so much experience in this sphere, one imagines they have copious funny cut downs for drunken shout-outs. Not that those who regularly partake of a drink or two are going to find themselves very drunk just from the show, but anyone turning up already tipsy is likely to become considerably merrier by the end – in more ways than one.