Edinbourgh Festival '99: Reviews

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The Independent Culture

Infinite Number of Monkeys

Gilded Balloon, Venue 36, 3.45pm (0131-226 2151), to 30 Aug

It was always funny to imagine infinite numbers of hairy monkey fingers bashing meaninglessly at typewriters to produce the works of Shakespeare. James Cary, a writer for television's Smack the Pony, has taken the idea a step further, and transports the audience to the lab where the banana- fuelled experiment is taking place, introducing us to a world of simian typos, botched plots, and other futile attempts to prove hypotheticals.

Perhaps appropriately for a sketch show based on a lab scenario, Infinite Number of Monkeys appears to feature jokes at varying stages in their life-spans. While several have reached promising adulthood, some are in embryonic form - and others should have gone to the great cracker factory in the sky centuries ago.

For instance they hit the mark with the train driver who refuses to stop in cities he finds boring. However, the failed "knock, knock" joke is ancient and unamusing.

Just as a watched pot never boils, so a dud joke never sells. Still, it would be well worth their continuing the experiments.