Do you remember the Silly Funny Boys? Of course you remember the Silly Funny Boys. Everybody remembers the Silly Funny Boys – or at least that’s the conceit behind this hilariously creative parody, from Fringe favourites Sleeping Trees. In the parallel universe of their show, the ‘Boys’ were a much-loved trio of kids’ TV presenters back in the 1980s, who are now reuniting for a charity gala, in aid of a stricken former fan. It’s pitched as an act of selfless altruism from the big-hearted ‘Boys’ – though as you’ll soon discover, there’s a somewhat less noble reason for their concern.
The charity telethon is ripe for satire, and the format proves a great match for Sleeping Trees’ free-flowing, quick-witted style. The three-man troupe play not just the Silly Funny Boys themselves, but also all of their guests – even down to a dog. The constant stream of characters means the action never flags, while the variety of acts they parody keeps the concept fresh. One segment, involving a creepy ventriloquist’s doll, felt at odds with the surrounding frothy fun, but genres ranging from poetry to magic each take their turn to be cheerfully lampooned.
Much of the entertainment lies in immersing yourself in an imagined fandom; there are catchphrases to learn, responses to shout out, and ‘old favourite’ games we’re told we’ll remember. It’s surprisingly easy to slip into the groove, thanks to the Trees’ talent in capturing the essence of shows that genuinely did form part of our childhoods, but there are some comic incongruities too – most memorably their overly-literal interpretation of the iconic show Catchphrase, which features the most startlingly funny moment you’re likely to encounter this Fringe.
Threaded through the sketches is a darkly humorous narrative, recalling the fateful day at the height of the Silly Funny Boys’ fame when a harmless-seeming stunt went wrong. This well-paced back-story adds a welcome extra dimension, revealing that the Boys are keeping secrets from each other as well as from the outside world. Perhaps there’s a slight question of taste to raise here – the storyline makes light of a medical scenario that really isn’t funny at all – but on balance, it’s heightened and improbable enough to get away with.
In Silly Funny Boys, Sleeping Trees deliver the best of both worlds: a fast-paced sketch-like format, with a long-running story that builds to a single killer punchline at the end. It’s one of their most enjoyable shows to date, and comes highly recommended for a night of daft, uncomplicated, and gently nostalgic fun.