Foil, Arms and Hog, so-called because of their nicknames for each other at university, are an Irish sketch comedy trio and something of a tour de force at the Fringe, having delivered sell-out shows since 2006. Their latest effort, which incidentally shares its name with one of Edinburgh’s finest eateries, is an impressive blend of physical comedy, accent gymnastics and madcap surrealism, marking them out as one of the Fringe’s top sketch shows.
The trio make strong use of their audience, getting us to hum their jaunty intro theme as they take to the stage and later employing a rather muscular man to fight them as gorillas in the most violent game of Connect 4 I’ve ever witnessed. They are also unafraid of improvisation or throwaway comments, such as the hysterical remark made at the beginning, where they drew attention to the fact that their enormous banner, bearing the show’s logo of a pig, made it look as though we’re attending a surreal fascist rally, given it was printed far larger than they intended.
The first few sketches took a little while to land their punches, including a slightly flat skit revolving around songs for the elderly, with punchlines like ‘Staying Alive’ a tad too predictable. However, the trio hit their stride once they began to flex their vocal and physical muscles, including a brilliant sketch which centred around an acting shoot between a human and robot actor, with the latter displaying Sean Flanagan (Hog)’s extraordinary physicality and willingness to go to anything lengths to get his laugh. Equally strong was a motivational talk delivered to a group of prisoners, with Sean Finegan (Foil) and Conor McKenna (Arms) heckling their colleague from the audience, a common feature throughout the show, that made the show feel brilliantly inclusive.
It doesn’t get much better than this at the Fringe for consistent and varied humour. Each member fits so effectively into the trio’s comedy engine that watching them riff off against each other and the audience is a sheer delight. If you can nab a ticket before they sell out, make these guys your compulsory late night Fringe viewing.
Underbelly – Udderbelly, 2nd – 28th August 2017, 20:45