ComedyReviewSouth East

BriTANick: Komedia, Brighton

Reviewer: Lela Tredwell

Writer: Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher
Director: Alex Edelman

Winner of a WGA Award for Best Writing, nominated for an Emmy, and named Variety’s Top Ten comics to Watch, there seems little doubting Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher are a talented comedy duo. Friends since childhood, they have written for Saturday Night Live and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Their debut show in Edinburgh performed to sell out audiences, along with a run at the Soho Theatre. BriTANick is a fast-paced witty comedy sketch show. Both McElhaney and Kocher have a charming stage presence which quickly endears us to them and their shenanigans. There are a great many laughs to be had from their antics and entertaining characters. One of the most successful sketches is actually the very first, where Kocher plays a ghost while being wrapped in a sheet, as McElhaney embodies a character being haunted.

There are a range of genres called on during the show, including Western, period costume drama and spoken word. In another fun sketch set in a time of sword-fighting duels, introduced is a horse called Midnight who steals the scene. Midnight is imagined. The duo tend to favour object work over props, reflecting their time spent performing with the The Upright Citizens Brigade. There are undoubtedly improvisation influences at work here, but the sketches have the confidence of having been carefully crafted and rehearsed. Overall, the structure of the show is effectively realised and contains a fun, satisfying twist. There is clever, entertaining word play and a decent proportion of this show does come across as intelligent and witty.

However, some elements are problematic. The comedy duo do, on occasion, choose to draw attention to their own privileged blunders, but disappointingly the awareness tends to be used to create further humour and not always for self-correcting ahead of time. There is a stereotypical portrayal of two Mexican characters which could so easily be written out. When playing “two gay guys on a date” they introduce the scene by asking the audience if this is okay for two straight guys to do, ensuring we know they’re ‘really’ two straight guys despite the bisexual content of their show.

Nick’s sexual aggression that runs through the performance, is attributed to his girlfriend not having sex with him, even though he does not seem to be communicating his issues to her. She is presented as responsible for his sex pest behaviour, preoccupied as she seems to be with trivial things, like napkins, as his needs go unmet. In his frustration, and convinced he’s in a dream, Nick clambers out into the audience bearing his torso, with his trousers around his ankles, and only a pair of tight fitting pants to keep him covered. He’s looking for a sexual conquest, or maybe two. He pauses over a young woman who buries her head in the shoulder of the person beside her so as not to come so close, face-to-groin as she already is, with Nick’s ‘loaded’ package. As we’ve already heard a joke about the life threatening nature of his next orgasm this is all rather uncomfortable.

Could this show be made without the jokes about racism, killing your girlfriend with the power of your ejaculation, and two straight men having sex with each other? Yes. Will it? If only. It is such a great shame, as these are two very funny performers, who clearly have a flair for comedy writing. Kocher and McElhaney site Monty Python as one of their influences. Some of the madcap comedy this creates is fun with one scene where the duo dash about playing loads of different characters they’ve created on stage. But other elements of this inspiration are getting tired by the 2020s. It would be great to see this duo settle more into their best moments, when they are playing unusual characters and delighting in word play. BriTANick is very often witty, humorous and charming but it is not without its problems.

Reviewed on 7th March.

The Reviews Hub Score

Funny but Flawed

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