Comedy Review: Barber and Hayward at Camden Fringe Festival

Comedy duo with cracking potential ran out of gags too early.

This comedy gig certainly had an Edinburgh Festival aesthetic, held as it was in a small room above a pub with a tiny stage at 6.30pm.

Punters had to wait downstairs in the bar until the box office lady bellowed above the music that the door had opened. Once up there, we sat in rows of fold-away chairs, protected from the evening sun by tatty black curtains.

The show had a slightly hap-hazard feel as well, with a late start and the comedians having to announce themselves, but was no less enjoyable for that.

The stars, Fred Barber and Tom Hayward, were both young lads following the paths of other great double acts before them - Morecambe and Wise, Laurel & Hardy, The Chuckle Brothers, Barber and Hayward. Apart from the fact that they weren’t a double act, rather two stand-ups doing a half hour set apiece.

They both had some good jokes - Barber made loud and funny observations about family life and TV, while Hayward’s slightly affected routine had a good stock of obscene one liners.

Where they both fell short was a lack of material. At about the 20 minute mark, each of them announced to the audience they had run out of stuff and started ad-libbing, with varied success.

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A little bit of this was fine, but quickly descended into awkward pauses. Hayward just about saved the day by taking his clothes off, but to run out of cracks two thirds into your time on stage smacks of a lack of preparation.

But that too is part of the fun of a festival - you expect a mixed bag and learn to take the rough with the smooth.

* Shown at the Camden Fringe Festival, Camden Head, Camden High Street, NW1, from August 17-18 and August 22-23.