The show began. Three men roamed through the audience, introducing themselves, cracking silly one-liners and unpretentiously getting to know their audience, despite their impressive reputation. All three men - Sean Finegan, Sean Flanagan and Conor McKenna together comprising sketch comedy troupe Foil Arms and Hog - were dazzling, entertaining and bloody hysterical.
All their sketches were winners. From ludicrous politically charged songs about Brexit, to dramatically mimed weight lifting competitions, the audience was keeling over with laughter throughout. In one particularly ridiculous sketch, it was revealed that the most dangerous weapon in the US military’s arsenal was the terrifying and infamous ‘actor’. With his impressive skills of manipulation and ability to expertly disguise himself as a tree, the American military were finally able to infiltrate a Russian submarine. Everything from the ostentatious costume to sassy attitude was faultlessly executed. Wonderfully absurd!
What took Foil, Arms and Hog: Swines a cut above your classic sketch show was the incorporation of elements of improvisation. Confident in each other’s comic talents, the men were able to freely experiment with the script. For example, during the first sketch - when the men were participating in the miming weightlifting championship - the commentator of the games was able to jovially mock competitor Conor McKenna by graciously pointing out that it is incredibly “impressive” that he was able to “mime sweat-patches”. This looseness ensures each show is still slightly unique, and each performance remains fresh.
Years of friendship has etched itself into the essence of the show. Sharp badinage effortlessly rolled off the tongues of all three performers. Genuine trust and camaraderie between the men was palpable throughout. However, it was most evident when Conor McKenna decided to part from his script, abandon anything that remotely resembled what had been rehearsed and adlib about twenty minutes of the show. This move, which took a great deal of chutzpah, was incredibly rewarding as this comical chaos was side-splitting, and although totally improvised and absolutely manic, it was still perfectly professional. I was however not amused when in amidst the teasing, I was called out from the audience for, and I quote “laughing too loud!”. Next time I’ll just have to enjoy myself a little less!
Overall, Foil, Arms and Hog: Swines is brilliant. There was certainly a lot of hype surrounding them (and I am a rather large fan of the ensemble), but I am pleased to say they did not disappoint. The different accents used were flawless, the characters created were animated and cartoonish, and the sketches ridiculous and relevant. They were funny, very funny, and the audience was grinning from start to finish. This is a show you really must check out before you leave the Fringe.