by Laura Ferguson
Fuq Boiz: The Resurrection has comedy sketches about how the world is ending and that we need the Fuq Boiz back to revitalise civilisation. Underwear-clad Parkinson and Richards enter the stage and decide the way to save the world is with a party. The show begins with brief introduction to the duo before ploughing in, ensuring us that they aren’t really fuckbois. They shoehorn in the fact that their director and producer are female before conducting a diversity audience test. Then we set all that aside and get into the ‘we need to save the world by having a party’ theme. We get a few sketches leading up to said party, do some time jumping group breakups and then we arrive at the party that is supposed to help save the world. But it is unclear how or why.
I will say that there is a hilarious joke about the origin of the word company which made me laugh a lot. It was moments like this in the first half that I see the performers at their best and glimpses of brilliance. Parkinson and Richards are charming, no doubt and have the kind of stage presence that ensures audience engagement. They have an innate ability to make their audience invested and connected to what they do, no matter how bizarre the sketches become.
However, the comedy sketches seem lumped in and loosely tied to a general theme. Unfortunately, that means there are gaping holes of logic that are hard to gloss over. How is the party still on track if the group break-up is for sufficient time for one of them to birth a child? How exactly is this supposed to help a world that is experiencing a 10-year storm? Leap of faiths only work if you know what is catching you has a parachute, and the Fuq Boiz parachute seems to be a ratty tablecloth that they only hope works.
The care shown earlier in the night to try and be equal and diverse does not continue into the depths of what equality and equity mean. During of the two group breakup scenes, one builds a loving family, the other is homeless. The portrayal of the family is as if it is disposable and the homelessness is treated as a joke: a crass, unclever one. Parkinson ranting at a passing Richards if he wants to pay to see a dick shows the debased idea of what people perceive homelessness to be, a domain for raving lunatics undeserving of empathy because of what society has made them. It is a fuckboi treatment of a societal issue, but then why ask us at the beginning to know that’s not who you are?
I have been lucky enough to see a few good comedy sketch shows this year. Frickin’ Dangerous Bros’ Humble and Parker and Sainsbury’s Giggly Gerties are two of the funniest I have seen this year. With the shows essentially using the same formula—male comedy sketch crew, woke attitude, compelling stage presence—why did I feel so deflated after Fuq Boiz? Part of the reason is those the first five minutes of the show are spent making sure we believe they aren’t really fuckbois. Name-dropping their racially diverse and female production team and conducting an audience diversity check showed that the duo were afraid of any backlash to their white, cis-gender, straight, male selves for simply putting on a show. And yet, didn’t make fun of this expectation, it is a missed opportunity that doesn’t take advantage of comedy beats the show could have injected. There are jokes pointing out their un-fuckboi-ness, like going into a heated rage when, once again, their audience is mostly white and middle-class, but these seem flimsy and weak. I sat wondering why name your show Fuq Boiz is you’re going to spend your time apologising for it without cashing in on the comedy potential.
Fuq Boiz spent so much time telling me what it wasn’t, they never got round to what it was. Once Fuq Boiz was stripped of the moniker, I wasn’t really sure what they were trying to show me. If you’re not a Fuq Boi, who are you? You asked us to look at your dick after asking us to see your PC-ness. You make sure we know your team includes women but don’t think to portray a woman as a character in your show yourselves. You name your show Fuq Boiz but then don’t even allow the audience to applaud you when the show ends. Why?
And yes, the show ends by Parkinson and Richards replacing themselves with women who usher us out unceremoniously without giving us the chance to applaud the people we paid to see. This appears to be a further extension of the apologetic “sorry we’re straight white men” theme from the top of the show, but being replaced by women (I’m guessing they were the aforementioned director and producer) to close the show meant we didn’t get to clap for Parkinson and Richards, but we didn’t get to do the same for the others involved. No acknowledgement to sound or lighting, the backstage crew, or the director and producer you made sure to mention were
women. So everyone’s hard work goes unrewarded aside from ticket sales and the laughter garnered throughout the show. It confused me, and I thought maybe the real ending would happen in the theatre lobby instead. But no, that was it.
Parker and Richards were energetic and charming and fun even if the show had some problems. Just for the killer etymology joke alone I wanted to clap my hands red for the duo. I didn’t get a chance to show my appreciation for our not-fuckbois at the show, so I’ll do it now. Here’s to you, Hamish Parkinson and Ryan Richards; you confused me, but I enjoyed myself. Maybe next time there is a Fuq Boiz resurrection, I will get the raring, full of life version rather than this meandering zombie one.
Fuq Boiz: Resurrection has its final show at BATS Theatre on Saturday 29 September. Please visit the BATS Theatre website for more information and booking details.