As week 2 of the Camden Fringe began, the tweet came round: "Tonight: Robin Ince - SOLD OUT, Policy Wonk International - SOLD OUT, Simon Amstell - SOLD OUT." There's nothing like a stream of sold out shows to make a fringe swing, the anticipation of grasping one of those hot tickets, even sweeter. Or, as we were at the Etcetera, is that sweatier?
Manfred and Jackson work for Policy Wonk International, a leading think tank with a ukelele department. Opening with a gratuitous dose of toilet humour we see Manfred - 'Call me Manfred' - explain to new and not yet jaded recruit, Jackson, what they do. Which is to gather and feed 'evidence' into a small talking box - the 'wonk' - which churns out strings of policy ideas, not all of them ludicrous.
It's a fine set up for satirising think tanks and ripping up the jargon of 'imaginating" but Miller and Douglas choose to create comedy sketches out of international affairs, social problems and policy solutions as well. We meet a lecherous ambassador cementing foreign policy by 'boning' other ambassadors, the lazy staff of the UN in 1994 failing to act on a call about Rwanda, a desperate man dealing with a severely learning disabled child that roars threateningly off-stage and a Japanese robot with a terrible accent designed to look after people with dementia. Meanwhile, the ukelele department is tasked with investigating PCSOs, park patrol and parking wardens tackled via musical interludes about falling in love with (stalking) them.
The show is genuinely funny but not quite what we were expecting and maybe there's more mileage in developing this topical, relevant and pretty hilarious show for future audiences, focusing more directly on the think tank itself. For now though, much fun. Grab a ticket for tonight if you can.
Miller & Douglas present: Policy Wonk International is at the Etcetera Theatre tonight at 9pm. Camden Fringe runs until 30th August. All tickets £7.50. Check out other Fringe coverage on Londonist.