Pappy’s – Edinburgh Festival review

Pappy's5If this does turn out to be Pappy’s last show, they’re ending on a huge high. Show number six for Matthew Crosby, Ben Clark and Tom Parry is a knockabout classic with some unashamed poignancy to balance the books.

Oh to be a fly on the wall when the trio were planning this show. When sketch groups find success on the live stage but not in the hearts of TV commissioners, the elephant in the room is: how long can they feasibly stay together? With this show, Pappy’s don’t so much address the elephant, as put it in a silly hat and ride it around singing My Way.

The concept is that they’re elderly men looking back at what turned out to be their final show, and how it had begun with such optimism and energy before something went very wrong very quickly. What happened in that last show, they ask, to bring Pappy’s down? They flit between these retrospectives, the sketches from their “final” show, and what happened to Matthew, Ben and Tom afterwards.

And Pappy’s’s sketches are as strong as ever, some comprising three parts, like if Hanna-Barbera started painting triptychs. Their mimed sketch to three different pieces of music shows they can do smart as well as capering, and one including a fireman, cat and a tree has a pay-off so gratifying you won’t need to eat for days.

This is not a flawless show, there was one not-short sketch that I felt was weaker than the others, and maybe I’m being taken in my Pappy’s’s “sympathy song” (a concept they introduce in this show to great effect), but this still gets the full 5 big ones as it feels like a “you have to see this show” show. It’s so perfectly constructed and so joyfully performed, with some proper belly laughs along the way, so it’s a no-brainer.

Perhaps I’m over-analysing, but the wave Pappy’s give at the end of the show has a sincerity that’s reminiscent of when footballers make their last appearance for a club. If this is their farewell then it’s not the Gazza goodbye, dropping down the leagues with loss of dignity at every turn – it’s the Eric Cantona. Go out at the top. Go out leaving people wanting more.

5 stars

Pappy’s: Last Show Ever is on at 8.20pm at the Pleasance Dome
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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