Updated: May 2, 2022
Rocking the House with Brilliant Comedy in the Apollo
It's been two days since I sat in the second row of the Eventim Apollo in London to watch FAH perform their Swine's show for the fourth time. This time was just as special and spectacular as the last three shows that I saw in Dublin, Ireland at their home theatre of Vicar Street. First of all, sitting in the second row meant that I could really see FAH. Even though Vicar Street was an intimate space, my seats were never that close to the stage or to FAH themselves. This time I was so close, I could see the color of their eyes. If I had been farther back in the theatre, I might have been able to speak directly to the differences in being in such a large space compared to a place like Vicar Street, but because I was so close to the stage I just felt like I was part of the sketches as FAH performed immediately in front of me.
However, I felt like I do when I'm at one of their meet & greets: I am in the presence of greatness, the masters of comedy, the men who know how to use the stage, wrangle an audience and bring them into giggling submission. Okay, maybe I've gone a little too far with that last example, but my point is that whether a venue is large or small, this does not seem matter to FAH. They know how to communicate with the people in front of them and to present their comedy in such a way that their attention to us feels intimate no matter where we sit in a performance space.
FAH began the show by inviting people from the seats high in the venue to empty seats in the first, second and third rows. Surprisingly, there were a lot of these seats available and people began streaming down from above to grab a spot closer to the stage. It was such a wonderful invitation and so nice to see FAH create an instant community from grateful fans, who had, in fact, waited for at least two years to see these comedians. So, to be able to also have better seats than their original ones just gave the night a really generous feel, right from the start. This was all because FAH kindly offered that open invitation to come forward towards them and people happily accepted.
Then came the messing and as usual this was spurred on by Hog and Arms, who ran around grabbing people's coats, chatting non-stop and trying items of clothing on to varying degrees of success. At one point, Arms stuffed himself into a coat that was clearly way too small and he then had to have an audience member literally peel him out of it. Much to the surprise of the fahns sitting in the first and second rows, our own Heleen had her coat picked up by Arms and given to Foil who wore it with great pride on the stage!
I will say that at this point, FAH were already behind schedule in starting the show because of all the messing, but the lads were having the craic, as they like to say over in Ireland, and no one was there to reign them in. But finally, they got down to business and started with the miming competition sketch. Again, because I was close, I could see much more of the techniques that both Arms and Hog used to express themselves and convince the audience that they were, in fact, lifting incredibly heavy weights. Foil acted as MC, trying to make Arms laugh. There was the usual sidestepping of the script, Hog careening around the stage improvising as much as he possibly could get away with, and Arms following suit.
I won't go through the sketches, as FAH have two more Swine's shows in May and I don't want to give anything away in case fahns have still not seen this glorious comedy show, but suffice to say that the night was an incredible one both because of FAH's comedy, but also because of the audience who were ready to be entertained and who were happy to be part of the process themselves. There was a lot of encouragement tossed out at the lads, lots of "we love you Foil" shouted from the balconies, moments of heckling, which just gave Hog or Arms or Foil a chance to improvise within the sketch and to show us over and over again why they are comedic geniuses.
We also had the requisite audience members brought up on the stage. This was Andy, an older gent who was a brilliant sport and added a layer of comedy to his "performance" with the lads and Linda, a TV producer, who just always seemed a little perplexed and (to be honest) not too happy about being involved. At the break I told her that I thought she was being a really good sport and she told me that she had seen the lads before, but that she never intended to sit in the second row ever again. Yep, she wasn't the happiest person on the planet. But FAH persevered with her and even though her face said, "I don't want do this," she still participated. Andy, on the hand, was the real star. He was truly fabulous and clearly adored the lads and his time on the stage.
And that special moment in all FAH shows, dear reader? Well, that was when Foil came and sat down next a fahn friend and me. He said hi to her and when I leaned just past her to look at him, he gave me a gleeful hello and was clearly thrilled to see me. It was such a brief moment, but a wonderful feeling and an experience that I will not soon forget. But the real excitement was watching Foil play his role in this particular part of the show, sitting right next to us. In this way, we got to see him in action, up close and personal, and this was a real gift.
Suffice to say that this Swine's show was truly amazing, but because of all the messing, the starting over of sketches, the improvisation, and the audience being so involved in their own ways, interjecting and calling out and generally inserting themselves into various moments, FAH ran way, way behind in this London show. But time was irrelevant to us fahns and to all the audience members. We never looked at our watches or cared to leave the presence of greatness. We were in it for the long haul, but all good things must come to an end. And that end received a standing ovation for all the laughs, the joy, the excitement and the sheer brilliance that FAH produced for us on that Friday night in April.
There was no formal meet & greet at the Apollo, but Foil and Arms kindly came out to talk and take pictures with a small group of fans and fahns, as I like to differentiate between us. There are those fans who come and simply want to say hi, take a picture, and then leave. Then there are the FAHns! We want to chat, take pictures, and chat some more. We also want to give the lads presents and then chat. We want to ask questions, joke around, and you guessed it! Chat some more. This time, unlike Vicar Street, the security was lovely and allowed us space to see Foil and Arms. I missed Hog, but understand that he gives so, so, so much of himself that I honestly think sometimes by the end, he probably has no energy left at all.
What is really lovely about Foil and Arms (and sometimes Hog) is how generous they are to us FAHns with their time after a show. They must be exhausted! They've given so much of themselves on stage and then they come to talk to us. Two years ago there was no coalesced fahndom and even as recently as May 2021 when I interviewed them, both Hog and Foil said that they could not get used to having fahns, but now, of course, they've met us and they genuinely seem to really like us a lot. This makes me happy and proud of our fahndom all at the same time. Like our idols, I believe we are kind, supportive, lovely people . We all have deep respect for the comedians who make us laugh and who have brought us together as a community to connect with friends across the world.
April 29, 2022
Seeing FAH's name up on the Apollo marquee was a wonderful sight.