Thursday 9th July 2015 – The Bike Shed, Exeter. Tom Parry/Matthew Crosby, Edinburgh Previews

Feeling a little bit Groundhog Day, once again were in the Bike Shed, this time for Tom Parry’s Yellow T-shirt and Matthew Crosby’s Smaller Than Life. Both lads are part of the award winning comedy sketch group Pappy’s. Similarly to Wednesday both gigs were quite well supported and it looked like the same punters went into both shows, which had about a half hour interval between them. For a fiver each preview, this was excellent value, especially given that the shows were already so polished. Great deals are also to be had at the Just the Tonic box office for both of these shows at the Fringe.

Settling ourselves cravenly in the second row – first up was Tom. We’ve seen earlier versions of Yellow T-shirt, the most recent one at Machfest in early May – it was good then; now, NOW it is fabulous. Striding onstage in a Welsh rugby shirt and huge black wig, For the first ten(ish) minutes Tom plays Kelly Jones (from the Stereophonics) like you’ve never seen him before, and never will again. He is both over-the-top and spot on at exactly the same time. I especially loved the way he deconstructed the performance as he went along, telling us that he really shouldn’t give Kelly quite so much stage time – then having Kelly tell us that Tom would be on in a minute. We’re also given instructions on what to say to Tom when he wastes time or, er, nope – can’t say it…

The audience is involved with the show, three of them being given sheets full of jokes, thoughts and the theme of Fancy Dress. Tom weaves his show from the material written down there and it’s a magical web of silliness, dressing up ( and DOWN – no, no, NO, not giving it away, but it was wonderful to watch the two ladies’ faces in the front row when it happened!) and also explains just how dressing up will make you live longer.  Somewhere just under Tom’s smile is a truly creative artist just itching for his next fancy dress party.  Someone give that man a theme and let him get to work!

Dave and I both loved this show – please, PLEASE, go to Just The Tonic At The Tron, (venue 51) 6.20pm. You won’t regret it!

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Tom Parry

After the break, back we went this time for Matthew’s Smaller Than Life. Matthew makes it clear at the start that he’s a smaller than average guy, but in my opinion good things can come in small packages.  He starts off with a very energetic, topless dance routine wearing the mask of a well known Russian politician. From there we move onto arm wrestling (we’d promoted ourselves up to the front row for this gig, and yep, our friend Greg gets dragged up – fair play to him – he got his shirt off with no encouraging at all!) and out powers Matthew , er, the politician, only to find that the Russian media have him down as having lost – well of course – did he really think he’d got the upper hand, quite literally?

Matthew fills his show with hand puppets, crispbreads, his recent (ish) marriage, Russia, more dancing (oh…yours truly got to do a quick twirl as well), a mucky joke that we were warned about at the start, and a finale re-featuring Greg, who had his shirt off again before we could say “hang on, probably not necessary this time” – it’s fair to say all of the front row enjoyed the fruit based finale tremendously, especially Dave, who has a very good aim when he puts his mind to it!

Find Matthew at Just The Tonic At The Mash House (venue 288) at 7.40pm. A real treat.

Carole.

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