Reeves and Mortimer mature like a fine wine. They somehow manage to out-do themselves with every programme they create, and building on the foundations of shows like Big Night Out and Shooting Stars, that truly is some feat. Series one of House of Fools was a comical violation of the senses, in the most enjoyable way imaginable. A fool would assume it couldn’t get any better. But it has.
This second series has shown the group really cement themselves as a unit, if a rather dysfunctional one, which gives the comedy so much more meaning and vigour, and the addition of Julie’s Bistro downstairs provides an interesting new dynamic. Rachel, Erik’s straight-talking Norwegian girlfriend, is a new character and is played by Ellie White. She fits into the group effortlessly and the possibility of Rachel just becoming a reflection of Erik’s character is successfully avoided, as she is the centre point of jokes from her very first appearance (such as her fear of non-flat things, which Bob inadvertently brings to the surface).
Dan Skinner continues to bring elements of his hysterically funny stand up character Angelos Epithemiou to his performance as Vic’s younger brother, Bosh, and similarly, Matt Berry approaches the character of Beef in his typical smooth-voiced and flamboyant style. These talented actors have certainly worked out who they are in terms of performance and this is expertly picked up on by Reeves and Mortimer in the character development and sharp script writing. And then we have Julie. Julie is absolutely magnificent. She is bewildering, extravagant and outrageous yet has the depth of a wholly decent character at the same time. Morgana Robinson’s performances truly are a sight to behold, with her enthusiastic slapstick and unpredictable line delivery, particularly regarding her temporarily tiny hands.
From the strange interpretations of celebrities like Bruce Forsyth and Alistair McGowan, to the arrival of The Butcher Boys, a dance trio made up of Tom Davis, Tony Way and Romesh Ranganathan, to the appearances of Sally Phillips, Simon Farnaby and Rufus Jones, amongst others, it can’t be denied that this programme is diverse. As well as the new energy in the cast, the fact House of Fools is recorded in front of a live audience adds something extra special to the performance, especially as they are seen at the beginning and end of episodes when the camera pans out. Fans of Vic and Bob do not sound like your average laughter track; they are boisterous, enthusiastic and clearly having a bloody enjoyable time. This homemade feel is enhanced by the decision not to remove the frequent corpses and mistakes made by the cast, which often highlight how preposterous the plot is and remind us that a great deal of the script is semi-improvised.
House of Fools is a microcosm of insanity and childishness. When Beef announces that his black cape is “made of the nighttime,” nobody bats an eyelid. When Vic proposes to save Bob’s underwear from a giant moth by shooting it dead, Bob dismissively sighs: “Vic, I don’t want my panties covered in shot.” It always has been and always will be an absolute joy watching these two fantastic comedy minds working together, and seeing them have so much fun in the process. Vic and Bob have unlocked a door to a phenomenally wacky and unsettlingly funny parallel universe, and I want to stay there forever.