Musical Comedy Award winners Jollyboat have had an exciting few months, and although they’ve been performing on bills all over the place, tonight’s gig was the biggest headliner in Liverpool for some time as it was a taster of the show they plan to take to the Edinburgh fringe in the summer. Brothers Ed and Tom Croft are best known for their pirate-themed comedy songs and tonight had the opportunity to throw some of their other work into the mix and see how everything was shaping up.
The obvious, but not entirely lazy parallel to be drawn is with Flight of the Conchords. There’s a teeny tiny sliver of Tenacious D and a big dollop of good, old-fashioned British variety in there too, but their good chemistry, musicality, wit and looks make the Brett and Jermaine comparison a half-decent one. Jollyboat bring a certain uncool cool to their musical comedy like the New Zealanders do, and perform with that same sort of naive charm. And, like the Conchords (this is the last one), they can cram so many casual gags into their songs it leaves you struggling to breathe.
Starting with a rap about Jesus and moving on to a Germanic twist on John Lennon’s Imagine, they sheepishly apologise for each song’s potential to offend – something that would go completely unnoticed in a comedy club, but perhaps not with other audiences, and if Jollyboat are anything, they’re a versatile pair, and can end up on all sorts of bills.
Just when they were starting to flag, they pepped themselves up with their joyous medley of pirate parodies of well-known pop songs. It’s silly and wonderful and full of highlights (tonight, fitting a little ditty about buried treasure-easure-easure to the tune of Rhianna’s Umbrella did it for me). There’s a song about the Dewey Decimal System, and one called Three Little Words (somewhat reminiscent of Tenacious D‘s One Note Song, which made me think of them earlier). Their closing number, a fairly straight love song that brought the laughs through a modern riff on the old Bob Dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues clip, was nicely executed and very funny.
Warming up with a decent ten minute spot was magician – or ninja wizard – David Alnwick, who had some very nifty card tricks up his sleeve as well as a good rapport with an audience. If I’m not wrong, he’s the flatmate of the Jollyboat brothers, which only conjures images of a carefree, comedy Monkees-style existence when they’re off stage. It was clear that Jollyboat have a great chemistry together and really enjoy performing. That’s something that goes a long way. Although new faces on the circuit, their warm, genuine, and needless to say, hilarious act has bags of potential.
Finally, it was good, too, to be reminded of the usefulness of Baa Bar during the comedy festival and beyond – its upstairs room is a decent venue to check out a lot of smaller or up-and-coming acts throughout the fest at very nice prices. If you’re at a loose end over the coming week, why not pop in and see who you discover.