Kieran and Joe – Edinburgh Festival review

Losing a member hasn’t dented the considerable talents of Kieran and Joe, one of the finest sketch acts around, says Paul Fleckney

Kieran_and_Joe1ROSIECOLLINSWith the probably exception of Sheeps, Kieran and Joe have to be my favourite of the many young sketch acts around. The main difference between them and their peers is simply the comic foundations that underpin it all. Bad ideas aren’t put to waste, skits don’t peter out without ever issuing a joke, and Kieran Hodgson (right; the needy, unruly one) and Joe Parham (the mature one) are both brilliant performers.

They had been part of a trio until earlier this year, when another Joe (Markham) departed, but the remaining duo have have come up with a show that I would happily see again. In “Friends of Steel”, they aim to prove how strong their friendship is, and to help us make our friendships likewise (if they weren’t so bloody nice I’d wonder if this was a dig at their former member). They do this via a series of roleplays, sketches, songs, a spot of audience participation and game show elements, none of which disappoint.

The concept may not be the most original but it is punctuated by outstanding moments, such as a rendition of I Believe I Can Fly, a showstopping Martin Luther King impersonation, a date featuring an invisible Kieran, and their holiday from hell which tested their friendship.

The jaunty pair’s relationship goes on a journey itself and they cleverly convey the complications and comprises that occur. Not that the show is to be taken seriously, it’s loaded with jokes that lend the show real potency.

It’s a show that wouldn’t be out of place on Radio 4: light-hearted and smart (and pretty middle class, but sans smugness). It does suffer from something of a dip in the final third, but this is nonetheless a fantastic show that marks Kieran and Joe out as stars of sketch comedy.

4 stars

Kieran and Joe: Friends of Steel is on at 3.15pm at the Pleasance Courtyard
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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