Comedians Against Humanity @ Pleasance Dome

An improvising highlight – Yianni Agisilaou's Comedians Against Humanity enjoys a new lease of life in Pleasance Dome

Review by Ben Venables | 22 Aug 2018
  • Yianni Agisilaou

Just as with the modern parlour game Cards Against Humanity on which this show is based, there's a MadLibs element to Yianni Agisilaou's Comedians Against Humanity. Albeit with an adult twist where surreal, risqué or un-pc statements on the cards are inserted into improvised scenarios. The inbuilt incongruity and surprise make this a very effective route to funny and Agisilaou is in his element bringing his underground show to Pleasance Dome for the first time.

Tonight, his guests Paul Duncan McGarrity and Trevor Lock's contrasting comedic styles add another level of absurdity. In the opening game, McGarrity plays a minister at the department of death. He manages to bring a repressed manic energy to the role to the point that his moustache and eyebrows seem like a deliberate costume; it's like he's come from the government of some dystopian novel. He's tasked with outlining his policy to execute everyone who has ever donated to the Make a Wish Foundation. And the policy is then further explained with more random cards, although sometimes it's the credible inserts that get the biggest laughs – such as when the "blank" that will enforce the executions turns out to be "Nazis".

It soon moves into inventing tag-lines for films and here the night becomes a little more conventional. It is especially hobbled by the absence of a third comedian who didn't appear tonight (it's sods' law it's the night we've been invited to review). Being one down means there's less variety and thinking time for the comics who did turn up. Later, there's also little to distinguish this section from the 'elevator pitch' for TV pilots.

Trevor Lock seems in his forte with his off beat professor delivery, especially when he's tasked to explain what all single women want (Louis Armstrong's lost testicle) and how his ex-wife could only climax when he was slicing a ham. When he side-thinks his way to a pun on "I got 99 problems" being about ice-cream, it elicits a delayed laugh (or an appreciative groan) once we've caught up with his thought pattern – which is well ahead of ours. Lock later poses as a religious minister, and Agisilaou – always on duty and going beyond it – has to ape around the audience by simulating the pulling of bonobos out of his butt. Bonobo butt aside, he can be proud of this show and he must be pleased the concept is proving it can work anywhere, either in Pleasance or its semi-cult status on the free fringe.

Comedians Against Humanity, Pleasance Dome (Ace Dome), until 27 Aug, 11pm, £9-12

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