Paul Merton’s Impro Chums (Rating 4/5)
Returning to the Fringe after a one-year absence, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums is the show you can rely on even though it changes every evening. The trick is to have the best improv comics in the business, and Merton’s long-established reputation mean that’s a given.
He’s joined by Lee Simpson, Suki Webster, Richard Vranch and Mike McShane, and it’s hard to believe there can be any situation or genre they haven’t covered many times already.
Some games work better than others, and everything is dependent on the quality of audience suggestions. In one game the one-line settings and situations provided by the audience didn’t give them anything they could develop beyond a first line.
In another game, Merton, Vranch and Simpson all shared the part of a man teaching Zebras to dive off swimming boards. This was the highlight of the show. Webster’s questions gave them ample opportunity to make the story as ridiculous as possible. The end result was comic genius.
The fewer restrictions on where the improvisation could go to, the better it seemed to be, but the tight format of the show works against real flights of fancy. However, when it does come together you know you’re in the company of expert improvisers and top quality comedians.
Pleasance Courtyard until 18 August