An offshoot of the Witsherface comedy collective, Who Fed Benny? is a sketch troupe comprising of Michele Gallagher, Scarlett Mack, Lisa Keddie and Lynnie Carson. Drawing comparisons in comedy is not always favourable but there’s a similar mix of the Scottish surrealism as in Burnistoun, along with the smart silliness of Smack the Pony, to be found here.
Performers Michele Gallagher and Scarlett Mack are gifted in their ability to establish characters and scenarios in split-seconds, never letting their enthusiasm tip over from sincerity into nonsense, which lends the sketches a credibility that only adds to the laughs. Gallagher is so expressive that, even from my seat at the back of the Tron, it feels like she’s no more than a step away from me. Mack has a knack for accents and giving bimbo characters a depth that makes her lines all the more joyfully absurd. Both are phenomenal physically. Gallagher gets special mention for not holding back whilst seven months pregnant, her bump incorporated deftly into sketches where appropriate. Their observations are acute and well-balanced. An edgier sketch that centres around Auschwitz has a resoundingly daft and satisfying pay-off.
However, all sketch shows, by the very nature of the format, have hits and misses. The only misses here are sketches that lean too heavily on the more stereotypical elements of women in comedy, such as swearing teachers, a penis cloakroom and faux pas when speculating about a colleague’s pregnancy. Who Fed Benny? are at their innovative best when they trust in their idiosyncratic outlook, rather than playing to what they may think is expected of them.
But there are only a few misses in a show that is packed with fresh feeling hits. Highlights include: the random objects that are only musical when your pal’s out the room; the laddish builders arguing about the Queen’s ownership of swans; and, my personal favourite, the inspired factual entertainment spoof, The GovanHills. When Gallagher and Mack finish by belting out the Chess classic, “I Know Him So Well” with altered lyrics and frenemy flourishes, becoming, “I Know We’ll Do Well”, you can’t help but strongly agree.
The next opportunity to see Who Fed Benny? is the last one for a while so catch them on the bill of BBC Comedy Presents at The Stand on 14th June.