Free, fringe

First, the important news.

Lovely Lisa Faulkner, with her tears and her neck and her lack of self-esteem, proved that she can act and cook on Celebrity Masterchef 2010. Because this year’s actually fed into my Secret Dancing show, which I have been performing in tandem with the final stages of the competition, the two will always be interlinked. And watching the semi-finals with Tom Wrigglesworth, and the final with Richard Herring, will also imprint them on my mind. It’s a shame I found out that Lisa won before catching up with the final last night on Sky+, but that’s the nature of the beast. I still enjoyed watching she, Dick and Christine cook up their last supper for John and Gregg. (And, yes, Gregg did use the phrase “Dick it up,” when describing Strawbridge’s propensity to match unusual flavours, right to the end.) Now, enjoy Lisa’s moment.

And while we’re here, perhaps you’d like to see if you can spot a theme running through the last three Celebrity Masterchef winners.

I’m saying nothing.

Last night, I caught up with Pappy’s at Pleasance One, the huge theatre space the popular sketch troupe played last year. Their ramshackle, good-natured, deceptively clever DIY tomfoolery was, a year ago, provided by four. This year, they have shed Brendan (don’t know enough about the politics to go into exactly what happened, but I don’t think any of them like to talk about it, except Brendan), and the Fun Club, and are streamlined to three. It is no comment upon Brendan, whose contribution was always essential to the dynamic and the spirit, but three is better than four. It makes the three – Matthew, Tom and Ben – work harder, and it just gives a nice symmetry.

Their new show, All Business, is only loosely themed around having to find a new investor for their sketch show. From here, they find ways of having Matthew play a dog, Tom play a cockney vending machine (“I’m out of order!”) and Ben a chicken that surely consciously echoed his popular dinosaur from last year. The props are even worse than Jeremy Lion’s, but do the same job. It’s impossible to stop laughing and clapping throughout; even when a sketch fails to quite hit home, the next one – a wordless one about a wardrobe clash – makes up for it. And they battled with a technical disaster not just valiantly, but creatively, turning the constant irritating buzzing coming through Matt’s headset mic into further comedy. I could easily believe that he got more laughs last night than on a night when the mic worked. That’s how they roll.

It was a pretty grim experience queuing up, as it was raining, the Pleasance Courtyard was packed (it was, lest we forget, a Saturday night), and the start time was delayed by almost 15 minutes, while Pappy’s wrestled with their sound problem. Also, because the queue, which snakes around the courtyard, had to be split into two, to allow passage for other punters, we could see people either inadvertently, or absolutely advertently, pushing in where the gap was, gaily unaware of their queuecrime. Even though we were all damp and cold and delayed, nobody pointed out their queuing “error.” Plus, when we finally filed in, the Pleasance staff decided to open the back door of the venue to speed things up and usher the back half of the queue in that way, which meant they got in first and we, who had been halfway back, had to make do with the back rows of the theatre. It was so unfair. Still, who can remain grumpy at a Pappy’s show?

I thought it brave of Tom to announce at the end that the show had been “a metaphor about us not working on the telly.” Last year, he had berated a TV commissioning editor in the audience for not putting them on the telly. It’s a constant theme. They did have a pilot once, but it failed to capture their raw, unpredictable energy. Maybe this really is a stalemate. Telly is not everything, Pappy’s! You are better than telly!

There seem still to be tickets for the rest of the run. Book them.