Comedy / The A-Z of Drugs / Girls with Big Jests London Comedy Festival

A wide-eyed girl at the back is popping some Fantasy, while a dude in a manky greatcoat pulls forlornly on a green pepper. There's a hippy clinging to his seat as the high from a Jack-in-the-Box ("It'll take your lid off") threatens to propel him from the room. And the happy soul talking to himself in the corner is doing his best to blow his brains on a reckless cocktail of cider, "grog" and Jaguar lager.

It could be the fall-out from a particularly seedy student party. But it is, in fact, a show called The A-Z of Drugs, playing at the London Comedy Festival last week. The creators of this anarchic narc-fest are James Poulter and Graham Duff, and theirs is a notable achievement - to have extracted mileage from one of the most hackneyed subjects in comedy: drugs.

If you had a gram of coke (or, in Poulter-&-Duff speak, Bolivian Shopping Powder) for every tiresome ganja gag on the circuit, you would be a very rich drugs baron indeed. But by cataloguing the highs and lows of narcotics abuse in a pseudo-educational manner, as opposed to the knowing, self- congratulatory, out-of-it-man references of most comedians, Poulter & Duff distance themselves from their topic, while keeping their stash of drug humour as fresh as a newly plucked mushroom.

This approach worked wonderfully for Pete McCarthy in his Hangover Show, but Poulter & Duff have taken the idea a stage further by inviting audience participation. And there's none more gullible than a comedy crowd up for free "drugs". Hence Jeff, the unfortunate punter sucking the "cerobonin" (should that read "cerebrum") out of a pepper: it's a show as much about audience as substance abuse.

Some items will strike a chord with any ingenue who's ever been duped on a street corner in a dodgy part of town into buying a quarter of tea leaves or a lump of liquorice. Duff, drawing frantically on a lit banana, details the hit: "It's a feeling of ordinariness, of similarity, of nothing being any different."

Their "research" has also produced the occasional medical breakthrough: until Poulter & Duff came along, science was unaware that the urine of reindeers fed on magic mushrooms produces a mild hallucinogenic effect on the drinker. Watch out for "Liquid Rudolph" or "Santa Fanta" at this year's Chrismas parties.

The festival, essentially a hangover for Londoners who couldn't be doing with Edinburgh, also aired another double-act of the future, Henrietta Garden and Phillipa Fordham. One of the few festival shows to sell out, with their fetchingly titled Girls with Big Jests, the duo served up the best pair of bitching gossips since Les Dawson last leant over his garden fence for a chinwag and a cuppa.

Tea was one of the milder stimulants at Poulter & Duff's show, but then heaven knows what they'd used as a sweetener. The Brighton-based double- act are dangerous men with time on their hands. And their next project? The A-Z of Taboos, featuring the Queen Mother and a clenched fist. That'll be some royal command performance.

MARK WAREHAM

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

    Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

    Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

    Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

    £200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

    Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star