Comedy Review: The Umbilical Brothers


By Andra Jenkin

Date / Venue: Tuesday May 15th, 2018 - Rangitera at Q Theatre, Auckland

The Umbilical Brothers’ comedy show “Not Suitable for Children” has all my favourite warnings. I’m promised violence, sexual references, drug taking, and according to the promotional material, there will be face painting if time permits. I’m genuinely worried about what with.

David Collins and Shane Dundas as the Umbilical Brothers have won a lot of awards including two BAFTAs and an EMMY. For the comedy connoisseurs they’ve won the Edinburgh Critic’s Choice Award, so expectations are high as I enter the venue.

The billing that it’s a children’s show that kids are not allowed into has me pretty excited to be honest, anywhere I can go without my kids is a bonus, and getting to watch a show without them is truly a pleasure.

The show is everything promised on the tin and more, with the duo doing a whole lot of high octane performing, taking on different characters and scenarios. They give it 100% and you just know that they’ll find that extra 10% somewhere and use it at the exact right moment.

In comedy, a comedian’s material is known as gear, and these two have got all the gear.  They are just so funny, and are doing so much. They break the fourth wall like it’s nothing and the audience feels very much a part of the show. Their level of talent is ridiculous. Actually everything is ridiculous. You have to be incredibly clever to put together a show this silly. It’s surreal, and a trip, sometimes feeling very much as if we’ve all taken the dodgy tic tacs. It’s a case of holding on to your seat and going along for an incredible ride.

There are vocal impressions, dance, song, cartoon elements and mime. How brilliant do you have to be to make mime hilarious? My imaginary hat is off to The Umbilical Brothers. They are working so hard, but enjoying themselves utterly.

 David and Shane, or Shavid and Dane, as they are introduced at the start of “a live studio recording of your favourite TV show” subvert all of the conventions of kid’s TV, and theatre in general.

The violence is not mindless, or indeed mimeless at times. There’s a sneaky Robin Williams tribute, a comedian they have opened for. There are pop-culture references, satire and impressions. The show is so incredibly well put together that The Umbilical Brothers contrive to have us run headlong into gags that we don’t see coming.

We see more than can be believed, and that belief is suspended and sometimes hog tied and beaten into submission. They pack a lot into the show and it feels like the audience is getting more than their money’s worth. It may not be for kids, but the adults will love it. Has to be seen to be… well, you may not believe it, but see it, you must.