***** (out of 5)
For all of the ink spilled this year over whether TikTok stars (or Instagram comedians, or Twitter characters, or insert your own social media platform here) can translate with a live audience, it’s quite stunning and exhilarating to discover that Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher — two sketch comedians who first made names for themselves 14 years ago on YouTube — go over big in a live setting. Even in “a box on the street,” as they’ll remind you.
That box is a shipping container, and this August, it contains some of the most electric shows at the Fringe.
BriTANicK being one of the best sketch comedy duos you’ll find on either side of the pond.
Their show, so whipsmart, full of running jokes, meta commentary, brilliant use of sound cues, callbacks and making use of what’s not seen onstage, as well as the world outside of the box. They have a talent for not only playing multiple characters in one scene, but also breaking all sorts of fourth walls to acknowledge how the audience sees them, and even how they see each other. They can take a scene at a memory clinic, which offers up a chance at a “Who’s On First?” moment, and heighten it in ways you never see coming. In another scene, as beat poets, while McElhaney appears to relish the moment, Kocher finds a new target for his attention. Scenes that wouldn’t appear to have any thruline, by the end of the hour, magically come together. It all comes to a head-to-head, so to speak, in a saloon setting where McElhaney and Kocher attempt to one-up each other, but to what end?
It’s an hour that moves so dazzlingly and dizzyingly, that if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself scratching your head afterward, wondering how Lorne Michaels dropped the ball on hiring these guys for Saturday Night Live only to relegate them to the writer’s room, and then fire them a couple of years later. They deserved so much better. They still do. Perhaps now they’re finally due.
BriTANicK, through Aug. 28, 2022, at Assembly George Square, The Box.