In their homemade red and black jumpsuits (emblazoned with an enormous Z and V respectively), Zach Zucker and Viggo Venn are an odd pair — even at the Fringe, the spiritual home of the weirdly dressed. The cobbled-together superhero aesthetic isn’t really important to the show, but it’s a fairly clear warning sign of the downright euphoric silliness to come.
Thunderflop is an unpredictable, madcap and riotously funny hour.
After a gently amusing but pretty underwhelming start, Thunderflop takes off. And, boy, does it soar. The show is gloriously, unashamedly silly from slightly after the beginning to the end. Zucker and Venn’s comedy is derived from a stable of cartoonish, wonderfully weird characters. The two clowns perform a variety of excellent skits centred around characters including a claw machine, a prince-frog, a magician of dubious skill, a finger-licking page-turning priest, and a show-stealing turn from Zucker as a heavily ‘gap yah’-accented actah.
There is a fierce intelligence, however, that underpins all the eccentric fun. Zucker and Venn trained at the renowned clown school École Philippe Gaulier, and it shows: it takes considerable skill to craft such a hilariously absurd show as Thunderflop, to safely walk the tightrope between bizarrely funny and simply bizarre. Both performers also have a brilliant knack for improvisation. From the very beginning of the show Zucker and Venn enlist audience members during their various routines and — with unfaltering charm and good humour — manage to elicit nuggets of comedy gold from these interactions.
Sometimes the chaos wins a little, and the rough edges of the show become apparent. Some of the improvised material, for example, is so funny that Zucker and Venn send each other into fits of giggles. But within a moment or two the two have reasserted the show’s impetus — and the hilarity of such moments make up for the momentary loss of momentum.
A careful alchemy of overt silliness and covert intelligence, Thunderflop is an unpredictable, madcap and riotously funny hour.