When Lizzie Franks and Nerine Skinner met, what choice did they have but to eventually form a comedy double act? Fate dealt them a kind hand in the name department, albeit one which I imagine is frustrating for search engine optimisation; but they more than live up to that comic promise with their Edinburgh debut.
That's not to say they've got anything at all to do with the great man himself, either in style or content. Although the girls are piped in to his distinctive monotone, their all-singing, all-dancing, high-energy entrance immediately dispels any association with Skinner senior's modern slippers-and-Songs-of-Praise persona.
There's a lot going on in a fast-paced and often frantic set of sketches, and a lot to admire as well. The act is intensely energetic and physical, leaping about (and off) the stage. The singing and dancing demonstrates genuine skill. There are great jokes, whether scripted or off the cuff: Franks' microphone difficulty was inspired, for instance. They bring fantastic characters to life through clever costuming and use of props (the vampires quarrelling over a zoning dispute were just brilliant), and there's generally a lot of comic mugging and goofing around.
Franks and Skinner say they've only been performing together for four months, but it's clear that their comic instincts are closely aligned (to wit, their repeated device of finishing each others sentences, used sparingly to good effect). They pretty consistently hit the mark – although at times they might have reined in some aspects of their performance a little more, in order to better control it.
That's the sort of thing that comes with experience – as does, hopefully, a broader perspective. Many novice comics travel four hundred miles to come to Edinburgh, and then spend a lot of time talking about London. In Franks and Skinner's case, an extended running gag about which Tube line is best perhaps betrays a somewhat limited worldview, although that pompous analysis is slightly punctured by the guest inclusion of the Edinburgh tram. It also takes a lot of (admirable) chutzpah to commit heavily to some genuinely terrible comedy accents, spoofing everyone from daytime darling Lorraine Kelly to the late, great Cilla Black (the sketch was written before her untimely demise, we're assured).
It's always interesting to look out for new talent in Edinburgh – to try to figure out who'll be in it for the long haul, and who's just here for a summer fling. I don't know what the answer is in this case, but I hope they make a go of it. Franks and Skinner have a strong and distinctive look and feel, and I'd definitely be keen to see how their difficult second album turns out. And, for the record, the Victoria Line is clearly the best Tube line – it's the nicest colour, and it's the only one where all the stations are actually underground.