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Review: Burger King Illuminati at the Factory Theatre

By Laura Heuston

I knew Burger King Illuminati was going to be good. But I don’t think anyone could have adequately prepared me for how hilarious this trio of Bruno, Dan and Jacob (usually a foursome, but missing Liam) truly is. By way of illustrating how much fun their audience was having, this was the first amateur comedy show I have seen where a performer had to tell the audience to stop laughing, because they had been stuck on stage for ages, grinning and shrugging, knowing there was no point continuing as the volume was still too high. And all because Dan had mistakenly named Jacob in a sketch, and the other had played off it to perfection. This was, to be clear, about the fifth time this amount of laughter had happened, and we were nowhere near the end of the show.

Marketing the show as “lo-fi hi-joke sketch comedy” makes perfect sense once you realise a lot of the sketches are live reimaginings of popular Internet videos, made infinitely better by the recasting and now medium sized cast performing the videos. An early example is their performance as 3 of a 7 piece boy band at a charity concert to raise limes for the 4 absent members, who have contracted scurvy. They sang the boy band song- you know, the boy band song- but this time it was about... scurvy! And I don’t know how they managed it but they were better than any boy band music video I’ve ever seen, and I’ll admit that I used to love One Direction. At first glance they don’t strike one as amazing dancers, but I have to give them credit- I would have been on the ground after that routine, but they barely broke a sweat.

In terms of continuity, these guys managed to connect their sketches in ever more surprising and hilarious ways. I’m not sure I will ever recover from the ending, which I won't detail here because I want them to do it again, but it essentially revealed a series of easter eggs that had been hidden throughout the show and flawlessly transformed the entire hour into a spoof of the “Moonwalking Bear” awareness test video, that was the basis for various, increasingly absurd sketches throughout. Even with continuous references to familiar source material, their jokes managed to subvert the expectations of the audience almost every time. However, they also demonstrated a deft understanding of the rare occasion they should follow the joke through to its expected conclusion for our sake. I am referring of course, to the Star Wars scrolling text karaoke, where a good portion of the audience had already joined Bruno’s rendition well before Jacob’s rousing cry of “everybody!” Frankly, it was glorious.

They operated as a lovely team, demonstrating their friendship and skill in each interaction. Their Stand Up Trilogy, where they presented each other’s stand up routines due to each of them breaking their leg during the show, rendering them unable to… stand up… worked for a variety of reasons. The first is that they managed to find the worst stand up subject ever, video editing, which they then somehow beat out with sound editing puns. These sketches made the video/sound editors in the audience very obvious, which was half the fun. The final installment was weird sex references that I did not understand (I don’t think I was meant to, but I also don’t trust the internet not to be that odd so…) but I had to admire how original they were. But aside from the humour, relatability and originality, these sketches worked best because these guys were able to mock each other in a completely endearing and genuinely friendly way; a feeling which can easily be lost in comedy.

I also need to express how refreshing it was to see three dudes jumping around on stage and not hear a single mention of gender dynamics. That’s not to say that boys can’t talk about gender, they can and should, however I have to admit that whenever a male comedian heads down that path I find myself tensing up. And in the (hopefully) post-Louis C.K. era, why wouldn’t I? But these guys allowed us a night of relaxation and hilarity, keeping their humour in the realms of the ridiculous without trying to shock or pander. Unless you count Bruno’s Freddy Krueger sketch, which yes, was horrifying.

In case you haven’t gathered yet, I absolutely loved this show. Jacob’s baby Hindenburg with his “bawoon” was the cutest (and worth it), Dan delivered the finest late night show opening monologue I have ever witnessed, and Bruno should really replace James Veitch professionally. I’m crazy excited to see what they do next, and maybe to finally uncover the secret of how they made so much nonsense make so much sense.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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