Ed Aczel and Joz Norris are both regular stand-up fixtures at the Fringe, known for their oddball brand of comedy or, in Aczel’s case, anti-comedy. This year they have decided to team up for an hour of sketch comedy with, shall we say, curious results.
If audience size is any portent of show’s quality (it’s not), then things don’t look so good as initially there only two of us being warmed up by Norris doing a rendition of Hotel California. A few minutes later, Aczel ambles in and so does the rest of the audience, as another four people enter.
At that point, the show structure is explained to us. Which, if we didn’t catch it, is handily written on a piece of paper taped to the wall. The show kicks off properly with a nice parody of an old-school light entertainment opening as Aczel gives us ‘his’ rendition of a Sinatra number.
After this and a set-up for another skit, it becomes very much pick your own poison as the pair point to a big list of sketches for the audience to pick from. All of which are short film ideas the duo have allegedly pitched to producers. So what do we want to see? ‘Where do chips come from?’ ‘Big Shiny Buildings?’ ‘The Time Machine idea?’ The first one picked is ‘Ed and Joz drive in a van to Vietnam.’ Which turns out to be an amusing take on the celeb travel documentary. The next pick does not go as well as it’s explained to the audience that it doesn’t work and shouldn’t be on the list.
Throughout the sketch picks it feels more like being at a comedy workshop than a fully formed show with the duo regularly asking the audience how the bits can be polished. Not that the pair are as clueless as they appear as on one occasion the duo do this simply to set up a punchline. On other occasions though it seems they really are flailing for ideas. Once the picking is over the two bits set-up at the top of the show are paid off in amusingly anti-climatic style, and we are sent home to the sounds of Scott Walker.
There are many shows at the Fringe this year that deliver a set of tight, slick sketch comedy. Ed and Joz’s Deleted Scenes is not that. Instead, it is a ramshackle, occasionally threadbare, sometimes baffling show framed around an old Morecambe & Wise sketch only one of them has seen. However, this is still a massively enjoyable and endearingly performed hour, which deserves a bigger audience than the half-dozen of us who witnessed it tonight.