Review: Fuckwits (Simon Donald, Matt Reed, Steffen Peddie, Nick Cranston & Lee Kyle) – Newcastle Stand
First and foremost, comedians are writers. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule. Stand-ups like Ross Noble, for example, often appear to create material on the spot, trading a simple idea for a fresh routine. But they’re still writing, just in their head. And that ethos is at the heart of a new, experimental show hosted by Simon Donald.
Commissioned by the Newcastle Stand, Fuckwits is a gameshow with a difference. The big difference is that there are no questions, no clues and no answers.
Instead, two teams, comprised of two comedians a piece, are charged with the simple task of filling in blank crosswords. There’s also a word search and a round where the contestants, Matt Reed, Hebburn star Steffen Peddie, Lee Kyle and Nick Cranston, have to define fabricated words.
Puzzled? Don’t worry, you’re supposed to be. The format is loose, with the emphasis on quick-thinking comedians rather than scripted material. Prepared routines are, by and large, useless – though Steffen Peddie does manage to disguise a gag about his weight as an off-the-cuff quip, while Lee Kyle tests one or two groaners on the crowd.
The most refreshing thing about Fuckwits, though, is seeing comics reject their material and have a little fun. Lee Kyle and Nick Cranston are two of the North East’s most promising comedians, but they rarely move away from their scripts. Yet tonight they’re performing wrestling moves on each other, on stage, and making it funny. Magic.
However the real highlight of the night is Matt Reed. Just down the A1, Reed comperes a night at the Stockton ARC for Ten Feet Tall. He knows the North East crowd like the back of his hand. And most importantly, Reed knows his charm and charisma, amplified ten-fold as he knocks back more booze, will win over even the most stern-faced punter.
Let’s not forget about the host, though. Sitting on a stage opposite the comics, primed with a wireless microphone and a laptop, is the man behind the show, Viz co-creator Simon Donald.
Donald takes a backseat role tonight – not least of all because his mic breaks down halfway through the gig; but he gives important direction to both the audience and the comics, all of whom are new to this experience. He even allows the acts licence to take the piss out of him a little, which is worth noting as it helps create unity in the room; a common target amongst the bedlam.
“Dyslexic and colour blind?” Matt Reed barks at him at one point. “Who put you in charge of the pens?”
Good question. Although, in a show without rules, conventions or regard for basic spelling, it probably doesn’t matter. At Fuckwits, chaos rules supreme.