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‘Painstakingly funny observations of daily life’: Foil, Arms and Hog – Swines review

ByMiranda Garralda-Wong

Aug 1, 2019

In competition with all the grandeur and beauty that is the University of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall, the comedic Irish sketch group Foil Arms and Hog easily grab the headlights tonight. 

Together, the three members Sean Finegan (the explicator and Comedic Foil), Conor McKenna (whose moving ‘Arms and Legs’ occupy much of his performance space) and Sean Flanagan (the one who ends up Hogging the stage), form Foil, Arms and Hog. Finegan, McKenna and Flanagan’s odd group name only really begins to untangle when you see how the three collaborate on stage with their unique styles of humour.

From the get-go, the trio demonstrate an expert combination of improvised acting and seamless crowd-interaction. Whilst Finegan faces the audience to explain the fire safety regulations and typical procedures of their shows, McKenna  and Flanagan imitate members of the audience, one of whom enquires about the inclusion of insensitive jokes and turns backwards towards the door after Finegan assures him that there will be none of that. 

Following their preliminary introductions, the three get into their roles and prepare for their first sketch. The brotherly trio begins with a musical audition, with the dynamic duo of Beethoven, who plays his masterpieces as background music on his piano, and his far from extraordinary ‘friend’ Barry… who writes his own lyrics. 

In another recurring sketch, where three groomsmen lose their groom during a stag do, Finegan, McKenna and Flanagan dramatise and satirise the culture of stag nights., Manoeuvring their way through tormenting weather, the trio  stir a rile of torturous laughter, as they move in slow-motion to stormy sound effects and steamy fog.  

The iconic comedic trio carry an immense awareness of the need for a foil that can satirise and soften the slightly more adventurous comedic acts of Arms and Hog. Likewise, the roles of McKenna  and Flanagan are visibly vital in the execution of Finegan’s jokes – which when at one point are not so well executed, become a crowd-favourite joke in itself, as Flanagan teasingly mocks him for it. 

All in all, Finegan, McKenna and Flanagan portray the fundamentals of light and fast-paced comedy. Their warm style of humour is easy to follow, and difficult to resist. From the absurdities of capitalism to Brexit and mime to stags, the three charming comedians excel in their combination of audience-awareness, the painstakingly funny observations of daily life, and the poking, sibling-like humour between them. 

Foil Arms and Hog kicks off the 2019 Fringe Festival with a bang and does not fall short of their famed name on their tenth year at the Edinburgh Fringe. This Fringe, Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan will be performing new sketches that have never been performed live or even on their YouTube page before. 


Foil, Arms and Hog – Swines

Underbelly, Bristo Square: McEwan Hall (Venue 302)

Runs until 25th August

Buy tickets here


Image: Luca Truffarelli

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