Thursday, 12 July 2012

Comedy Punkz Fanz Episode 3

 Fanz 1.1 Episode 3 cover art

Comedy Punkz are an indie group of like-minded writers, performers, editors and photographers with a passion for comedy. Headed up by Stuart Robinson they pool their considerable talent to create comedy in all shapes and sizes.

One of their many creations is Fanz, an audio comedy set around the lives and events of a sci-fi group with a passion for Doctor Who. This is the first instalment of the series even though it is called Episode 3. Confused... well I suggest you stick with the series for all to become clear in the future or do I mean the past....

Being the pilot episode it introduces the main characters Jonathan, Tom, Cindy, Graham, Kate and Kirs who join forces to save their local pub from closure by the brewery. So begins a quest to seek out the legendary Doctor Who campaigner Mike Unt.

Initially I was slightly swamped by the number of characters, however each has a distinct personality so after listening a few times you quickly identify whose who. This pilot episode critically stamps each character's identity.

The group are a diverse bunch with Jonathan the classic geek/fan, Cindy slightly ditzy/self-obsessed with a hint of a promiscuous nature, Graham, a smart homosexual Australian, Kate who is permanently uptight and spoiling for a fight, Kris who is well spoken but none to bright and finally Tom whose seems relatively conservative compared to the rest of the group.

The cast consists of Stuart Robinson as Tom, James Potter as Jonathan, Steve Johnson as Graham, Suzanne Bailey as Kate, Samantha Robinson as Cindy and Duncan Wilson as Kris.

Given this mix, there is plenty of opportunity for interaction and sparring, with one-liners and insults being delivered rapidly and with surgical precision. The characters that shine for me are Graham, Kate, Tom and in this particular episodes, the management of the brewery itself.

This is no reflection on the other actors as they all deliver great performances but being the first episode and introducing so many characters means that some don't get the opportunity to shine as much as Graham, Tom and Kate. However I don't doubt future episodes will develop the rest of the cast and we will be given the opportunity to get to know each of them better as the story arc unfolds.

I won't go into the actual plot itself except to say it gives the characters the perfect vehicle to deliver some great performances and some very cutting lines. All I would say to the team is embrace the sci-fi references more and don't fear potentially losing elements of your audience because I think you will get a deeper buy in from those who understand a more obscure line.

The head of the brewery (James Potter) and his side kick Slacker (Alistair Lock), are excellent bringing a very League of Gentlemen feel to the proceedings.

Yes Fanz is in its genesis stage but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a stepping stone in launching the careers of the cast onto radio and TV in a few years time. I can see Fanz itself being reborn on BBC3 at some point.

Where I think Fanz really excels is the production. The quality is top notch and certainly comparable with comedies I've listened to on Radio 4 Extra. I suspect Fanz is produced by a team with a fraction of the resources, which is even more of a credit to the production team. Special mention should be given to the original music which perfectly compliments the show.

The episode itself lasts just under 50 minutes and is available on CD £8.99 and digital download £5 from the Comedy Punkz website

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