Idiots of Ants – This is War, Pleasance, Edinburgh
Monday 10 August 2009
You may have seen Idiots of Ants on YouTube, where their "Facebook in Reality" sketch has racked up 2.5 million hits since featuring on BBC3's The Wall. The format of that joke is typical of the all-male sketch troupe's world view, which unpicks seemingly ordinary facets of day-to-day life and looks at them afresh to reveal their absurdity.
Delivered by four telegenic young men in a sharp comedy uniform of black trousers, white shirts and skinny black ties, these are idiots savants for the internet age.
In this new show, nothing is too trivial to be explained anew, from a dissection of a Tom and Jerry fight to the birds and the bees. There's a danger of tipping over into the puerile when you adopt a child-like perspective, but Idiots of Ants largely avoid this pitfall, even when (in one funny scene) the joke is as simple as a doctor mistakenly inhaling helium seconds before he must deliver bad news to a patient's relative.
Idiots of Ants also know how to mine their masculinity to good effect, from a hilarious opening sketch at the "Federation of Fatherhood Preparation" – in which dads-to-be learn how to tell terrible jokes and be generally embarrassing – to riffs on the finer points of urinal etiquette, the rules of calling shotgun, and video gaming.
Most interesting though, is the troupe's boldly knowing approach to the sketch show format itself, which sets it apart from the usual hour of hit-and-miss skits. There's a great opening coup de theatre, a half-time analysis of how the show is going, done in the bombastic manner of an American sports show and a sweet final gag about taking the audience out on a date.
It's all done slickly but with lashings of charming energy, making for an approachable and hugely enjoyable hour. Mainstream success – and not just on YouTube – surely awaits.
To 31 Aug (not 17, 24); 0131 556 6550
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