Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop

Zach Zucker and Viggo Venn, an American-Norwegian clowning duo, bring the best of unruly silliness to the Fringe, doing stupid at its most genius.

Graduates of Ècole Philippe Gaulier, the prestigious French clown school responsible for Sasha Baron Cohen, Zach and Viggo are no strangers to the stage. They’re award winners fresh from a sell-out run in Edinburgh, and it’s no wonder things are going so well for them. Cleese-esque, lanky and rubber-grinned, Venn is a perfect balance to cheeky, self-aware, manic Zucker, and they parade about in black and red super-hero lycra, leaping boundlessly from sketch to sketch with enthusiasm bordering on epidemic. Their shared confidence and exuberant energy quickly feeds into the audience — a necessity in a show that relies so much on interaction. This is tough at the best of times, let alone while giving away so little instruction. But there’s no need to be afraid: participation is an enormous part of the fun, and an audience that throws themselves in will be very greatly rewarded.

Each sketch is connected in strange and unexpected ways, sprinkled with hilarious call-backs that might very well have you doubled over with their surprising, retrospective obviousness. There are princesses and frogs, a weirdly-genius magician, and a pair of ironic stand-ups, along with a tribute to Baker Street that had me in tears. What Venn and Zucker excel at is timing; even through improvisation and audience participation they rarely miss a beat. What is most obvious in their wildly nuanced expressions is that they just want to have fun with us. Tongues are set firmly in cheek, and while they might test your boundaries, or tickle them gently, go with them on it, then you can tell everyone you knew them before they were famous.

Zach and Viggo are thunderous, indeed, but certainly no flop.

★★★★½