Pappy’s are hard to define. They effortlessly blend the surreal and the sublime with visual, musical and physical comedy. There is a striking moment when you first realise that there is no ‘edgy’ humour of that tired brand involving racism, paedophilia or crudeness. There is no swearing and there is no attempt to shock; the most shocking joke of the night was announced as ‘Anne Frank’s boyfriend,’ a perfectly constructed and simple piece in which ‘Karl’ was summoned downstairs, ‘not because they didn’t like him’ but because he just ‘had’ to leave. Queue appearance of ‘Karl’ trudging dejectedly through the attic door complete with One-Man-Band drum kit, cymbals et al.
Over the course of a couple of hours we are taken on an innocent adventure through time in a doomed attempt at beating the world record of 200 sketches in an hour (a record that looks quite safe from the opening gambit of a brilliant 5 minute Bob Dylan harmonica sketch). The members are always running on and off stage to change into ever more interesting costumes, a mish-mash of car boot sale fancy dress and cardboard creations that look more at home at a bad nativity play, but despite being essentially a pantomime for adults the fun never crosses into the puerile.
The camaraderie is genuinely engaging. The frequent ad-libbing engaged the audience far more than I’ve seen strict scripts do , and by the time the villainous Terry Quaker is running laps around us, covering us in ‘porridge oats’ to convert us to his cult, Pappy’s can do no wrong. They are a reminder of how comedy can be at it’s best through simplicity and soul, and more than that they made me, along with every single other person in the room, want a dinosaur called ‘Dean’ for a friend.