Milo McCabe starred as aristocratic matinee idol Troy Hawke for nearly a decade before the character went viral. Online, the shtick is to impersonate an unlikely visitor at department stores including WH Smith, Wetherspoon’s and TK Maxx. It’s basic Candid Camera stuff, enhanced – if only a little – by the character’s ingenuous good humor. In his new set, Sigmund Troy’d (nominated for Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival), McCabe projects some of those stunts, alongside a couple of other public pranks and conspiracy theories about nurses, psychotherapists and Jeff Bezos. .
If you come to the fresh character, like I was, you might be wondering: why is a wannabe Errol Flynn making jokes at a pizzeria in Welling? The character – silk tuxedo, tie, hoarse train – feels out of step with the material. But soon enough, I accepted that this wasn’t character comedy as social satire, and McCabe isn’t sending anything or anyone. Incongruity is part of the problem, as this silly ingenue baffles modernity with the help of Scrabble tiles, numerology, and some crazy ideas about dopamine and the brain.
Disturbing stunts and on-screen interactions with passers-by are underpowered: entertaining enough for TikTok, perhaps, but thin on stage. Hawke’s character isn’t particularly cohesive, veering where McCabe wants – see the out-of-character rant against the Prime Minister. The fun of the show comes from Hawke’s warmth with the audience, his puppy-dog enthusiasm (turning into gullibility as the conspiracy theories develop), and a handful of great jokes. The one on impostor syndrome in particular, coming from a man impersonating someone else, is a gatekeeper.