Saturday, 22 January 2011

'FAST & LOOSE' 1.2

Saturday, 22 January 2011

I was distinctly unimpressed with BBC2's new improv comedy show last week, and most of you agreed with my assessment it was too slow and, unforgivably, too rehearsed. But I know these shows take awhile to find their feet (the first few series of Whose Line Is It Anyway? were weak, too), so I tuned in for the second episode, hoping for an improvement, and I got it.

That's not to say Fast & Loose is still anywhere near a good show, but episode 2 was certainly funnier and felt more spontaneous. It was especially good to see Wayne Brady in the lineup of performers (a familiar face from Whose Line), as he managed to bring a few moments of spark to proceedings. The games were also much better and, crucially, had the smell of being genuinely impulsive – such as "Forward/Reverse", where a scene is performed but the action is randomly reversed or fast-forwarded, or "Double Speak", where the performers were coupled into oversized T-shirts and had to be interviewed as one entity, with each duo having to talk simultaneously. Both games were funny ideas, even if what was being performed wasn't particularly clever or memorable. The key thing is they felt improvised, by virtue of the fact they were performed so clumsily.

But the problems from week 1 remain: most of the games drag on far too long ("Weak Links" ran an incredible 8-minutes), and there was the unwelcome return of "Interpretive Dance" with David Armand (a ludicrous 4-minute long game.) The only saving grace there was that Armand's chosen song, Wet Wet Wet's "Love Is All Around", was more conducive to humorous mime than last week's "Careless Whisper". And the utter lack of audience input is still a ridiculous oversight that denies the show interaction and a sense of legitimacy that usually fuels improv shows.

And on a technical level, I hate the lack of screen legends to remind audiences of key things in a game (as I still forget what roles performers have been assigned for "Weak Links", say), presenter Hugh Dennis sits at a desk that's too distant from the performers, who themselves have to sit on those awkward two tier benches. I'm glad Fast & Loose has problems that are so easily fixed; but it's astonishing the format got this far without anyone realizing its blindingly obvious faults.

What did you think of Fast & Loose this week?

Fridays, BBC2, 10PM