Night at the Museum offers a love it or hate it show. On different nights you could have a very different experience and looking at some of the public reviews there seem to be a few folk who’ve been disappointed. It’s improv, which for me is always a red flag because you are fully accepting that it could be a mixed bag. The premise is simple: three guest comedians pretend to be professors and our host has them explain the purpose and history of different objects from the museum.
Our host tonight was Chris Forbes, who warmed us all up with a good ribbing before wonderfully walking us through the concept for the show. Forbes has that charismatic gentle Scottish personality that puts us all at ease, like a calm David Tennant. He had such a good time that the mood soon filtered throughout the crowd.
The first guest was Scott Gibson, whose name rang a bell – when I Googled him later I was disappointed to learn about a police investigation (Gibson has been accused of sexual harassment) which has sort of spoiled my enjoyment of his section in retrospect, and would definitely have coloured my experience if I’d known during the show. That not being in my mind at the time, his style suited the show’s format perfectly demonstrating an ability to invent ludicrous scenarios and push the limit a little of what’s considered acceptable…
Next was Joanne McNally, who took a bit of time to get into it, providing sharp and short answers to the first artifact forcing Forbes to step in with a couple of questions to dig a bit deeper. After that though, McNally was hilarious and watching her dig a hole for herself after declaring a kangaroo scrotum as being the world’s first Mooncup and thereby having to explain what a Mooncup was to the audience was as funny as the faux analysis itself.
Last was Mark Forward, who smartly hid behind a character of a sleazy and absolutely hammered professor. His skill at improv was impressive; the Canadian comedian blurted out total nonsense with the confidence of Tony Blair talking about weapons of mass destruction. It’s fair to say that Forward’s ridiculousness won the most amount of laughs.
While everything we learned from the “professors” was lies, Forbes helpfully told us what each item really was later. Unfortunately, I can’t remember anything about that and instead just remember the made up stuff. An iron mask was presented as an instrument used during mating battles between love rivals, a large Scottish Saltire flag that was in fact the Queen mother’s toilet paper, a deer skeleton was the very first Victoria Secret’s model, and a chess set was actually the original eleven homosexuals. Yes, it was all nonsense, but for a show at twenty past ten, it was late enough for most of the crowd to be suitably lubricated and silly enough to ensure we all laughed and had a great time. I saw this at the very end of the Fringe and hope it is on again next year as the comedians I saw here were all very entertaining and if I’d seen it earlier would definitely have checked out each of their individual shows.