Paul G Raymond and Luke Manning collectively make up the sketch comedy duo In Cahoots, but neither are strangers to the circuit and regularly perform in the improv troupe Shoot From The Hip. I first witnessed their talents in London at a comedy club improv show and was keen to see what the duo could put together in a more rehearsed setting. One would expect that with practice the overall show would be better than the improv, and true to form the duo have stepped up their game to a new level for this performance.
A sketch show with a structure, Two White Guys (ironically titled) showcases Raymond and Manning’s ability to piece together seemingly disparate sketches with an overarching storyline that all becomes clear in the final five minutes. The sketches themselves are expertly crafted with immaculate attention to detail and the sheer determination to produce as many laughs as possible. All are around five minutes each, which gives the two performers the time to establish the characters, develop the comedy and so maximise the audience reaction without risking the scene becoming stale or repetitious. Both artists take turns at leading the sketches and as each comedian is well versed in physical movement, accent and expression the sketches are of a consistently high standard.
The improv training with Shoot From The Hip also comes in useful here. Raymond performs a sketch as a poet reading some of his work; “This poem is called Leeds” meets a strong reaction from one particular audience member. Ian from Dewsbury is very enthusiastic about these poems and as a warehouse manager he even gets an honorary mention in one of Raymond’s works. Manning equally gets an opportunity to showcase his improv skills in a scene where he plays a pregnant woman. “I wouldn’t play the blame game. It’s ineffective and you’d lose,” prompts Manning to flounce offstage into the audience and pick a male at random to improvise with. The man in question is entirely flustered (as is his neighbouring wife) which Manning takes full advantage of.
The two comedians together have obviously established a promising on stage relationship. It is clear they are comfortable with each other, understand the material that they are performing and are absolutely committed to the sketch in question. This all shows in the high quality comedy that they produce.
In Cahoots: Two White Guys played Pleasance Courtyard (venue 33) as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, see the Fringe website.