Late Night Gimp Fight! – 5 stars

Canal Cafe Theatre, London

Sketch comedy has enjoyed a real resurgence over the last few years, as more and more groups and double acts are taking the fringe festivals by storm, winning comedy awards, and ending up with their own shows on TV. Relative newcomers to the scene are ‘Late Night Gimp Fight’, a group of five young men whose unique mixture of fast-paced sketches and musical set-pieces has won them a loyal and enthusiastic following.

At the Canal Cafe Theatre last night I saw their final London show before they break for the festival season. As soon as the house lights went down there was a buzz of anticipation in the auditorium, and it felt like we may well be in for a treat. From out of five large laundry bags which had been on stage since the audience started filing in, one by one the five boys emerged. With slow, sinister movements – made all the more creepy by the fact that they seem to be staring right at you through the gimp masks they’re wearing – they sang “Late Night Gimp Fight” over and over again to the tune of Pie Jesu. This segued into a glorious pastiche of Glee, and the show was off and running.

LNGF has all the ingredients for a successful show. There are short sketches and one-liners, excellent observational stuff, running gags, and just out-and-out daft jokes and bizarre ideas. Some sketch groups try to be too clever or sophisticated; these boys are sublimely and unashamedly silly and surreal, not to mention a little bit naughty, and are all the more refreshing for being so. Their raw edginess and willingness to try material that might be considered non-PC or even slightly offensive make them very exciting indeed to watch.

The five are David Moon, Lee Griffiths, Matt Ralph, Paul Biggin and Richard Campbell. They are all excellent actors and performers, and their sheer enjoyment of performing the show was palpable. As they rattled through an hour’s worth of material they made it look effortless, and their inspired and brilliantly executed routine of a Backstreet Boys number which closed the show was worth the ticket price alone.

Watch out for them in all the usual places this festival season. And then watch out for them on a TV screen or radio near you soon; it is surely only a matter of time before they are following in the footsteps of We Are Klang and Pappy’s Fun Club.

(originally posted 25 April 2010)

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