After 8 shows, we finally bring this journey into the short-lived but pretty entertaining Fast & Loose to a close. I’ve genuinely enjoyed the majority of the shows here, only taking off points for messy improv, panel dissonance and attempts that didn’t work. This is a vast improvement over Trust Us With Your Life, and having strong players like Hugh Dennis, Justin Edwards, Pippa Evans, Marek Larwood and Humphrey Ker along for the right has helped things incredibly.
We finish things off with our second ‘David Armand attempts to improvise as well’ show, alongside the usuals [Justin, Humphrey, Marek, Greg, Laura Solon and, for a game, Pippa.] Let’s see if we finish strong.
World’s Worst: Job Interviews
Humphrey, with a great voice: “WHY YES, I’VE GOT MY CV RIGHT HERE, BECAUSE I’VE CARVED IT INTO MY CHEST WITH A PEN-KNIFE.”
Greg: “I would describe my managerial style as Mugabe- hard, but fair.”
Marek: “I am capable of taking a lot of things on board, as I live on a boat.”
Marek is very good at these quick-fire rounds
Justin: “well last night i had a bath and I weed in it, so yes, I CAN multitask.”
Greg: “I had a job as a gym instructor previously, I lost that job when I instructed Jim to kill himself!”
Laura talks about spearheading the Hello Kitty merchandising platform, “and their much less successful ‘FUCK OFF, KITTY, I’M BUSY’ range.
Marek, jittery: “UHHH…I’M DEFINITELY THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR THE JOB YOU SEE TODAY…CAUSE I JUST KILLED EVERYONE ELSE IN RECEPTION.”
Pretty solid opening quickfire round
Greg: “my worst holiday ever was a pirate themed holiday I had…in SOMALIA, Hugh. We were only booked to go for a fortnight, I was there for 3 years.”
Come Dining: Justin and Humphrey are in a Kids TV program, David is from Thunderbirds, Greg is a Roman epic and Marek is Lassie
Marek’s reaction to his:
Justin: “….well hello.”
THAT ITSELF gets a laugh from Greg, and the audience.
Justin: “Grannies and granddads, leave the room…because…you smell!”
That feels like an early WL subversion.
David, unsurprisingly, does very good Gerry Anderson physicality, being sort of absentmindedly piqued along. Unfortunately, once he finally sits down, we get any collaboration with Justin and Humphrey edited out as Greg enters
Greg does an easy Gladiators reference, but casts David as the gladiator and Justin as a “massive tiger”
The lassie scene is exceptionally funny, because it’s Marek doing very good dog acting and the other 4 trying to translate.
David: ‘GRANDDAD DID WHAT?”
Marek: [angry scratching]
David: “THERE’S A CHILD IN A WELL?”
Marek, finally: “…someone’s killed a pig.”
I do like, after we get back to the Roman epic scene, Greg telling David “if you win, you will go onto fight…LASSIE’S PIG.” Just establishing scene continuity
David, leaving: “I’m gonna go continue the fight against the Mysterons…WAIT, HANG ON, THAT WAS CAPTAIN SCARLET!”
Humphrey, who has seen Thunderbirds: “YOU FIGHT THE CLAW!”
David: “THEY’RE ALL THE SAME.”
Humphrey, ending the scene: “join us on the show next week where we’ll be getting a new dog…and making it fight the old one.”
Not a perfect Come Dining, as little to none of them actually connected back to the actual dining scene, but good improv connecting, especially from David and Greg, and very good central scene. This was sillier than it was good, but it worked more than it didn’t.
Hugh asks for embarrassing moments
Justin: “I, uh, caught my scrotum in another man’s flies.”
Humphrey has a big laugh at that
Marek: “In school, when we were counting out loud, I forgot the number 10…so that incident has been forever known as 9-11.”
OH THAT’S PERFECT
Interpretive Dance: Humphrey and Laura must interpret David’s mime routine, set to Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
This is clearly one David’s done for years.
On “I shouldn’t have let you go”, David turns the ‘baby rocking’ mime he’s been doing for ‘oh baby baby’ and launches the baby absentmindedly out of his arms
‘my loneliness is killing me’ cracked me up because he brought back his ‘beating’ mime from a few episodes ago
And then, most famously, for ‘give me a sign’:
I think this is one of his strongest routines, and a lot worked here, though a lot of it was repeats after the first verse.
Laura gets it spot-on as well.
Final note on this game: I think David fit this version much better than TUWYL, because he knew the performers and performed along with them, but pausing the improv for 5 minutes to do pre-rehearsed stuff isn’t a good move. It’s why I’ll never do Kwik Wits on here, other than the fact that there’s like 900 episodes and most of them are lost media. And look, David is very good at what he does, but this is an improv show, and it doesn’t fit. I do think it was wise to have David be part of the improv troupe as well as a guest for this, but he’s clearly not to the level of some of the others at improv. So a lot of this just stands out awkwardly in an otherwise uniform show.
On the worst gift they’ve given or recieved
Justin: ‘this is a tip for anyone who is married, don’t, as an anniversary present, buy your wife hoover bags.”
Funnier when you realize that Justin’s wife is Lucy Porter, Mock the Week alum herself. Though it’s odd to think that they’d only been married for a year or so to that point, so that was genuinely Justin’s one year wedding anniversary gift?
7-Up: Justin and Humphrey are Adam and Eve, David is an arty film director, Marek and Greg are the world’s most evil man and his henchman
ANOTHER game that features everyone but Laura. The only non-quickfire game she’s appeared in so far is guessing in Interpretive Dance. Dan Patterson’s subconscious sexism strikes again!
Not a ton in Justin and Humphrey’s first scene, though I did enjoy Justin sprouting out of Humphrey partway through
David: “I am a big fan of Truffaut, Godard, Tchaikovsky, I screen these films to my classmates at junior school…I get punched a lot.”
…David, Tchaikovsky is a musician
Marek, playing meek perfectly: “hello, I am also VERY EVIL.”
Greg: “BUT FIRST, I SHALL TAKE OVER OUR PRIMARY SCHOOL”
Marek, in a delivery that cracked me up for some reason: “…yes, that’s a good place to start.”
Marek, after Greg details the plan: “and i’m going to draw a picture of a mouse!”
Greg: “THAT’S ALL YOU EVER DO. I’M TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD AND YOU WANT TO DRAW A PICTURE OF A MOUSE?”
Unsurprisingly, this is perfect
Justin, upon talking about how boring it is at 14, points to Humphrey’s crotch area: “what is that?”
Humphrey: “…whooooa…’ts never done that before!”
Justin: “how big is that gonna get?”
Humphrey, as only he could: “I genuinely have no idea!”
Justin: “you could hang a tie on that!”
Humphrey: “what’s a tie?”
Justin: “I don’t know, I am blissful in my ignorance”
Theirs is great!
David is already working on a film: “which is entitled, WHY? Spelt…q….”[smiles]
David’s having a much better show than last time
Greg and Marek’s second scene is great because Greg has now moved onto taking over the secondary school, and Marek still wants to “drrAAUGHA PICTURE OF A MOUSE”
Before they cut back, Marek’s very silly voice has Greg at the point of cracking
Justin: “it is freezing out here, I’ve got the wind…whistling through me lettuce…”
Humphrey, with another great move: “I’ve told you, WE’VE DISCOVERED CLOTHES NOW.”
Justin: “put a fig roll on it, you said”
Humphrey: “NO, I SAID FIG *LEAF*.”
Justin: “…right, I misheard.”
These two’s dynamic has been wonderful the whole show
David: “Luckily now I AM old enough to smoke, I’ve been holding my fingers like this…for FOURTEEN YEARS, waiting to place a cigarette in between them.”
We go to Greg and Marek, and Greg’s explaining how he’s gone into nuclear terrorism, and then he goes “what did you do”, and in the pause, we all know what’s coming. We all know the hook. So that’s funny in itself, we’re just waiting for Marek to say it.
Marek: “…I got out a PEN…”
Marek: “and I thought, you know, what could brighten this missile up? [LONG PAUSE] …so I drew a picture, didn’t I?”
Greg, not happy: “yes.”
Marek, after a pause, mouths “…ofaMOUSE” to us.
A very, very good 7-Up. While David’s was the weakest, he still had some good moves. Meanwhile, Justin and Humphrey had EXCELLENT improv back and forth, and Marek and Greg’s was a funny, funny scene that just built on itself as it went on.
Party Time: Bad pick-up lines
Marek: “uh, up close it looks exactly like a turkey’s neck.”
Greg: “wow, you’ve got an amazing bum, it looks like you’ve got a bin-bag full of coleslaw..”
Right Way/Wrong Way: Behaving on an Airplane. Laura and Greg are the right way, Humphrey and Justin are the wrong way
Laura immediately casts this as Qantas flight by putting on a very good Australian accent that A.) cracks up Greg and B.) reminds me what my next Whose Offseason project is going to be
Greg, as a tall person, asks to be moved to another seat “so that I don’t get full body thrombosis and die”
Hugh: “…so that’s the RIGHT WAY TO DO IT…”
Humphrey: “hey mate.”
Justin: “what d’you want, beanpole?”
Humphrey: “this seat’s bloody uncomfortable…because I’ve sat on a CHILD!”
Hugh prescribes the next scene as calling for assistance
Laura: “I’ve been standing over here the whole time in case you needed anything else, sir.”
Greg compliments Laura’s service, and adds “and dare I say it, [I find you] incredibly attractive”
THEN, ONCE AGAIN HE REMEMBERS HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE THE RIGHT WAY
Humphrey, perfectly: “I have trapped myself…in the tray.”
And Justin looks over and the desired effect is reached.
Laura, in the meal portion, again throws in the sexual undertones, saying “I will do whatever it takes…and WHEREver.”
And there’s this very fun silent bit where Greg takes the menu, and Laura’s hand. And there’s the slightest sensual undertone, before Greg subverts it, and hands the menu back, going ‘I’ll have the chicken please.”
Humphrey, knowing the hook of the other scene: “have ya got any nuts?”
Humphrey, with a perfect move: “and by the way, I’m still trapped in the tray.”
Pretty good round of this. Like usual tonight, the Humphrey-Justin combo won out, though I loved Laura’s improv moves [so rare tonight] and Greg’s inability to stay lawful good.
Sideways Scene: Pippa and Justin are two midwestern farmers who are milking in the cow shed when farmhand Marek arrives to warn them that a twister is on the way
There’s some initial funny stuff with the lack of an actual cow, and some of the usual physicality. I notice that Pippa is actually doing a southern accent and Justin is not
Marek enters, yells ‘GEE WILLIKERS’, and slams right into the door. What a talent. This repeated struggle with the door gets Laura and David laughing
This bit is entirely silly, and just Marek nailing this game by being ridiculous and forgoing timing.
For vampire movie style, Justin gets a smart idea:
I also love Marek struggling to rise up from a coffin
The action movie style ends with only Pippa on the mat. So I love the start of the Alien style, where Justin just absentmindedly rolls in from above
We end with Marek mindmelding with Justin at the right time and bursting through Justin’s chest. That’s fantastic.
Par for the course for this game, but I did like some of the improv moves, albeit the quieter ones.
Overall: A solid enough show that ends us on a pretty decent note, if not quite to the heights this show previously reached. 7 Up, Right Way/Wrong Way and the opening quickfire were good here, and the best moments came from the Justin-Humphrey combo, Marek’s wild card sensibilities, or the rare moments where Dan Patterson actually let a woman improvise. I really wish Laura, and Pippa honestly, was able to do more here, though she was strong at every opportunity they gave her [all…one of them]. David was better than in E4 but still not a natural improviser. Sideways Scene and Come Dining have been done enough times that these ones didn’t stand out. Still, some good enough stuff, and a fine way for the show to go out.
Best Performer: Greg Davies had the most natural command tonight, though I really thought Justin would be in this spot.
Worst Performer: I hate to say it, but David had more good improv moves make air than Laura, so Laura goes here. I hate that Dan continued to be so male-centric.
Best Game: 7 Up. The comedic timing in Marek and Greg’s and the excellent improv back-and-forth in Humphrey and Justin’s made this a given.
Worst Game: Sideways Scene came and went, as it does.
FAST & LOOSE SUPERLATIVES:
Best Episode: E5, the strongest this troupe has seemed, with landmark playings of 7-Up and Dragon’s Lair, and some very fun, lawfully crazy improv moves in Sideways Scene and Come Dining.
Worst Episode: E3, with the messiest improv, a lot of mistakes [courtesy of David], and a lot of games that didn’t work as well as other playings.
Best Regular: Justin Edwards, as a solid backbone of the show, and a reliable character performer with a ton of range. If Whose Line ever returns as a UK product, I think he’d make a great regular.
Best Recurring Performer: Marek Larwood, capable of the wildest shit that made me laugh.
Worst Performer: Tom Parry, E6. Just off-step with the other performers.
Most Underutilized Performer: TIE: Laura Solon, Ruth Bratt & Jess Ransom. Notice a theme?
Best New Game: Right Way/Wrong Way. Something very funny about the contrasts in this game. Honorable mention goes to Weak Links, which would be a funny LMAD replacement and made a great use of Hugh.
Worst New Game: Upside Down, E4. What the hell was the point of this game?
Best Innovation: Bringing episodic scene improv, such as in Come Dining and 7 Up, into the fold.
Worst Innovation: Bridging the show around both Interpretive Dance and Sideways Scene.
Fast & Loose, for the most part, worked. Of the eight episode that aired, I’d say that five of them qualify as really good improv episodes, and the rest are a bit more okay or flawed. The trick was making sure the troupe was all on the same page, and keeping the rep company together rather than throwing in too many outliers made for the better episodes [E1, E5, E7 & E8]. The show also benefitted from a genius host booking in Hugh Dennis, whose off the cuff abilities aided games and interstitials. The things that held the show back included distracting from the pure improv with games like Interpretive Dance and Sideways Scene, distracting from the main troupe by bringing in Jonathan Mangum and Wayne Brady for 2 shows [those episodes felt different than the rest of the run], and continuing to edit female performers less than their male counterparts. I would have loved to see more of this show, just to see how things would even out and how the formula would change, but I can also see why it didn’t completely succeed.
Still, I’m glad I watched it, and I’m firm in my belief that it’s better than Trust Us With Your Life.
Back to MTW and Whose Line for a bit, but the next project in the Whose Offseason series, which won’t be til a bit later this year, will be another attempt to establish a new improv scene, this time a little further south.