Their show is a fun one, but Peacock and Gamble draw attention to their major weakness
This was my first live experience of Peacock and Gamble. They clearly have a loyal following of fans who’ve grown to love the pair’s shambolic and fairly old-fashioned double-act dynamic. Even for the uninitiated like myself the video that plays as the audience files in – showing the pair mime badly to Japanese versions of Queen songs – sets the tone pretty efficiently. This is not a show to think too deeply about. Either one gets swept along to the torrent of silliness or you’re left behind.
Peacock is the short, hairy one who has the personality and attention span of a toddler; by turns endearing and aggressively annoying. Gamble is the young, handsome one. The idea for Heartthrobs is that P&G have become stars in Japan: they are now sponsored by Yuki butter and have become cover stars of Japanese magazines. Or at least Peacock has. It is the tension between rising star Peacock (author of autobiography Lonely at the Top) and the left-behind Gamble that fuels most of their interaction in the show. That, and their constant failure to fulfil Yuki’s sponsorship requirements.
Though the premise is fictional, it deliberately plays on the sense that Peacock is the overwhelming comic presence in the duo. In this show at least there’s no doubting who’s the straight man, as Gamble’s role is reduced to little more than reacting in an exasperated way to Peacock’s destructive idiocy.
Referencing the weakness, though, doesn’t stop it being a weakness: at times it felt like a tribute act to Lee and Herring, with Stewart Lee being played by a M&S mannequin. Apart from giving Gamble a thankless task, it places too much weight on Peacock’s comic character; as if in the presence of a real four-year-old, an hour in his attention-seeking company felt like more than enough.
For all its apparent chaos, Heartthrobs is really quite a traditional; their regular digs at fellow comedians and their subversion of sketch show formats, feel more like cosy joshing than risk-taking. There’s enough energy, though – particularly from Peacock – to carry most of the audience along for the hour. Just don’t expect the unexpected.
Review written by Pete Kelly
• Peacock and Gamble: Heartthrobs is at 9.50pm at Pleasance Courtyard