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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, July 05, 2007
    Girl and Dean
    A good move, stopping off halfway around the M25 for a trip into a gorgeous corner of London (Little Venice) to see comedy duo Girl and Dean perform a pre-Edinburgh show for their home audience, including a table full of various supportive Greenbelt bodies. Onetime GB programme manager Sarah’s given up her arts admin job to go for the comedy career full-on, and it's clear that she and Jess have worked hard in preparation: it is a very good show.

    Girl and Dean specialise in sketches which gently mock society’s pretensions and apprehensions; they do this with a very good turn of phrase and the aid of skilfully crafted low-budget visual aids (they are sponsored by a purveyor of knitting patterns). Of course no review can really express the fun they raise, but I must mention their excellent Corporate Takeover sketch (massive multinational factory unit in the form of a big cardboard box deals with the tiny threat posed by wholesome fair trade company next door, a far more modest invention, by parking itself on top of it) and their wooden-spoon-puppet schoolgirl romp King of The North (who is the King of The North? Sean Bean, apparently).

    It felt just a little uncomfortable watching this latter sketch, in a West London room with a West London audience, wondering whether the audience really got Girl and Dean’s intention to lay open the daftness of southern stereotypes of The North (if that was their intention), or whether the audience were just enjoying laughing along with the stereotypes. Perhaps the satire would bite more if it was a tiny bit crueller on those being satirised - but there is a value in it all being so gentle and understated. Certainly few who see it will quickly forget the sketch about the Office Bigot, a man not unlike most of us, who, carried forward on a wave of his own reasoned argument, ends up suggesting that the best way to purify the office would be to unscrew all the marker pens in the stationary cupboard, thus creating a toxic fog, and locking all of the troublesome staff - those disabled, black, etc - in there to be gassed...

    So Girl and Dean make you uncomfortable sometimes; make you think about your own silly assumptions; they make you smile very often and laugh a lot too. They also make very good knitted clipboard covers and offer help with legal claims if you've been the victim of a Ninja attack. I’m glad that BBC Four (so I'm told) have chosen to follow their progress through their first Edinburgh festival and I hope they get on really well up there.