Gunge-filled game shows at the Fringe
Get Your Own Back and Grossed Out Game Show offer audiences good clean (in one sense) family fun
This article is from 2015.
When the Fringe rolls around every August, it is wise to expect the unexpected. Although when I usually think of the weirder side of the festival, it's highly experimental theatre pieces and wild cabaret acts that spring to mind – not necessarily shows involving gunge tanks and slime showers.
For those who didn't watch the show religiously as they were growing up (unlike a certain List writer), the premise was simple. Two kids would compete against each other in a variety of activities to win points. The one with the most points got to propel the deserving adult of their choice into a foul-looking greeny-yellow pool of gunge. The main differences between the televised and live show are that the infamous gunge tank has been adapted for the stage and the audience and participants (other Fringe performers) are at least 10 to 15 years older.
'It’s really funny when I go out and do a children’s show, and there are no children in the room', commented Phillips about performing to a bunch of wildly enthusiastic 20-year olds, who were clearly avid fans of the TV series.
Matty Grey's Grossed Out Game Show, however, does attract families with young kids, all of whom are desperate to see people drenched in slime. He invites guest team captains, normally other Fringe performers, to lead their half of the audience in a variety of competitions, from a dance contest to catching paper plates with tongs. For every point won, an extra litre of slime is poured on the opposing team captain at the end.
Grey recently asked for a representative from The List to be a team captain and I volunteered – my desire to tick ‘take part in a Fringe show’ off my bucket list got the better of me. Despite the vigorous scrubbing it took to get the green gunk out of my hair afterwards, I had fun, and so did the audience – they went wild when I got covered in slime anyway.
Judging from the whooping and cheering in both shows as the messy finale commences it seems that people do love these horrible-looking liquids. But just what is it about them that attracts audiences?
Phillips reckons it's because gunge 'looks totally alien and feels totally alien', adding with a grin, 'you have the X Factor… this is like the Eugggh Factor.’
Grey tells me, ‘It comes back to the idea that being naughty is fun and getting dirty is naughty. We spend so much time when we are young being told to walk around the puddles that it makes the idea of jumping in with both feet all the more appealing.’
The gunge and slime elements may be integral to the success of both shows, but both would fall flat without the presence of their charismatic hosts. Phillips' comedic timing, occasional bouts of dancing and sweet shout outs to his wife and son ('it's a family show') ensure he entertains a predominantly adult audience with humour that is neither profane nor rude. While Grey, with his brightly-coloured suit, loud personality, and, again, dance moves, manages to keep parents and kids cheering through a game of chubby bunnies like they're watching Murray at the Wimbledon final.
Get Your Own Back: Live!, Gilded Balloon, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 20), 4.30pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).
Grossed Out Game Show, Assembly George Square, 21–23 & 28–30 Aug, 11.15am, £10 (£9).