The host for the night is Clive Anderson. He’s often on TV but I first encountered him in his role as host for the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
In “What Does the Title Matter Anyway” Anderson works with four improvisational masters and the audience through a series of games. On the opening the night the talented comedians who took the stage were; Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Josie Lawrence and Stephen Frost. As it happens I know all four and once again from the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway. There’s a sixth person on stage too – Philip Pope who helms the piano, improvising tunes to the various sketches the audience has the comedy team act out. Get this for a total coincidence – Philip Pope composed the original Whose Line is it Anyway? theme tune.
I found myself wondering whatever happened to the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway. As I recall it’s now owned by American license holders and is still running. I don’t imagine they’d ever give permission for a Fringe show. What Does the Title Matter Anyway? is an entirely original and unique creation. It didn’t remind me of any show from the TV at all. Clearly not.
The format of What Does the Title Matter Anyway? gives six funny people license to be entirely funny and spontaneous on stage.
In one game two of the comedians improvised a simple scene – meeting an old friend – but had to change style as per the audience suggestions. We started out normally and then the scene became something out of a gangster film.
In another game we had Clive Anderson ask questions of a “four headed expert”. Each comedian offered one word of a response until an answer was complete. The result? An interview about the end of the world and sharks. It turns out, according to the four headed expert, sharks can hear everything we’re plotting.
Audience members get involved (one rather significantly as the official score keeper – but that’s a role that may be scrapped; I sense it was rather hard to manage). One game had two people from the audience be responsible for physically moving the comedians around, like puppets, while they acted out an increasingly outrageous scene.
Frankly, it’s hard for words to describe and do justice to the improvisational comedy that pours from the stage. If only there was a TV show comparison I could offer.
The comedians you get in What Does the Title Matter Anyway will vary. On other nights you may encounter Mike McShane, Richard Vranch, Phill Jupitus or even Marcus Brigstocke. It’s also worth planning for the heat. The McEwan Hall can get very hot – those on the stage were provided with two bottles of water each and towels!
Overall? Go watch. If you’re even remotely fond of improv then you’ll enjoy every second of this show. If you’ve a fondness for certain old Channel 4 shows (or even radio comedy before that).