Dynamic duo gives ‘whole lotta laughs’

WHOLE LOTTA LAUGHS, featuring Gino Fabbri and Donna Africa. (Old Grey, tonight at 7.30pm). Reviewed by Brett Adkins

THEY'RE a dream team when it comes to comedy – a duo who understand that good lines are not worth much if not wrapped in polished characterisation and delivered with the timing that can turn a chuckle into a genuine belly laugh.

But as well as being acclaimed musicians in their own right, Gino Fabbri and Donna Africa also know how to bring a house down with rapid fire stand-up material. They proved this again at Old Grey this week, when a quick glance around the room was evidence enough that they know exactly where the "on" button is to elicit that hard-earned music to any comedian's ears: a room knee-deep in unfettered hilarity.

Whether going solo or duelling as a duo, the pair climb into their effervescent sketches with gusto, and don't let up for a second – so it's quite a relief at interval to be able to give your stomach muscles a break. From psychologist Reginald Sneed hypothesising on why we guiltily laugh at other people's misfortune while talking us through a series of slides (which a straight face would never be able to withstand), to Rancid Punjabi wisely imparting the "Things you Don't Say to Your Wife", Fabbri proves he is a wizard of caricature.

And there's particularly good advice from Rancid on how to avoid parking tickets forever.

And when, with Africa, Virgil and Beronyce September take to the stage, the show moves into fifth gear when it comes to a streetwise, loveable couple who encapsulate a treasured Souf Efrican idiom. But even when it's still all about the funny, you can't expect these two not to indulge their musical make-up and the "4 Chord Song" sketch with instruments, is a masterful bit of non-stop melody business.

In the second half, the "Carifornia Rolls" segment is another inventive piece of song-inspired comedy with its string of misread lyrics – I'll never be able to listen to Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On again without a smile – while nuns Sister Sisipissterstist and Mother Inferior are a rollicking "Sister Act" that would have Whoopi Goldberg beaming from ear to ear. The title of this show certainly couldn't be more apt.