Raymond and Mr Timpkins earned a fifteen-minutes-of-fame flurry of headlines in the tabloids last year when it was alleged that Britain’s Got Talent “star” Adam Keeler had half-hinched their trademark routine for his turn being Cowelled. Has that renewed interest prompted this overdue Fringe debut for the long-established act? Maybe. Maybe not. But they’re certainly milking the routine for all it’s worth.
And why not? It is a corker. The duo, ostensibly uncle and nephew, do high-speed visual puns based on song lyrics. So Michael Stipe sings “that’s me in the corner…”, Timpkins clips the word “me” to a stand in the corner. There’s lots of clowning, a smidgen of innuendo, it’s essentially the Chuckle Brothers punning to music. There’s even a “to me, to you” moment, lyrically and visually, and sadly we won’t get any real ones of those any more (RIP Barry). It also shares at least one gag with Peter Kay’s misheard lyrics routine, but that’s another story…
The routine’s done the rounds, so in places does show its age (a line about Heather Mills, for example). However, like the Ship of Theseus, it can easily be refreshed by switching old parts for new. The use of modern hits reveals it’s been worked on recently.
Really, it shouldn’t be half as funny as it is. Most of the puns written down would be prime Dad-gaggery, but delivered with pace and a comedy face, they mainly score. Timpkins strips to a pair of gold hot-pants for some saucier stuff, and the best bits are when they hit you with something slightly risque at just the right moment.
Of course, one routine does not an Edinburgh hour make, so it’s been padded out with a story section about a vicar coming to tea. An elaborate set made up of spinning panels has been created just for this purpose, and is just asking to fall off its hinges by the time the Fringe is out. Windows crash, churches get blown up, there’s fart noises and squirts of water, and a bellowing voice-from-beyond telling them what to do. To be honest, in all the clownery, it’s a little hard to follow whatever limited story it may have, but it’s still good fun.
There’s something pleasingly retro about Raymond and Mr Timpkins, from their costumes to their end-of-the-pier cheekiness. Given their dependence on their main routine, they do run the risk of being a one-trick pony, but it’s a hell of a fine pony.