Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham are the self-styled Thinking Drinkers. Their motto is to drink less but drink better and as two of the UK’s top drinks journalists they are regularly booked on television magazine and cookery shows to imbue, rather than imbibe, their drinks based wisdom. On a rather different note they have also been performing shows based on their love of alcoholic flavours for over a decade. The Thinking Drinkers Pub Quiz: Fancy Another Round? is their latest offering doing … well … the rounds.
Despite modelling themselves as connoisseurs of the finer things in life their show is anything but. It is this dichotomy of styles that really juxtaposes what they want to convey and what their show actually is. On the positive side the show is fun and silly and the pair are not afraid to make fools of themselves for a cheap gag. Playing a game of twister in their underwear epitomises the level of the show in terms of what to expect as silliness. However, this feels odd when balanced with being asked to appreciate the floral notes in the spirit we are sampling or the nuance of the oakiness from the men dressed as a pantomime cow. The show is a bawdy mix of bouquet and banter.
On arrival, each audience member is given a goodie bag containing one beer, three neat spirits and one soft drink. We are asked to sample these when invited and are educated on their etymology, history and nuanced production techniques. McFarland and Sandham, although celebrated drinks journalists, seem to present themselves as a couple of blokes looking for a good night out. Whizzing on and off stage over the four ‘rounds’ of the pub quiz the show is a hybrid of night out at the pub, an education of drinks, stand-up of sorts and a very slight quiz – the answers to all of the questions posed on the powerpoint being facts mentioned in the show.
McFarland and Sandham allude to previous reviews labelling them as lads with dad jokes. As much as they acknowledge this, it is true. Their heavily scripted routine is pun heavy with groan-worthy dad jokes around every corner. It is fun but tiresome. Smut and innuendo can only go a certain distance and despite the four alcoholic shots the audience are handed on arrival it soon tires. The evening feels very ‘blokey’ and perhaps a little dated. They are an act that fit well into the cacophony of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (a niche show with a twist) but as a standalone show touring pub/theatre venues it doesn’t quite cut it. Two blokey blokes telling the world how to enjoy alcohol better whilst trying to get their audience intoxicated with double entrendres behind every gag has perhaps had its time.
That said, their message is clear. If you like a drink then perhaps take a step back and savour the content of your glass and drink less consequentially. However, it is quite a raucous night out and trying to rate the audience ‘volunteer’ in terms of aesthetic looks through increasing ‘beer googles’ as the night progresses, their overall message seems slightly confusing!
Reviewed on 15th November 2023