Comedy review: Frisky & Mannish’s PopLab, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Musical-comedy duo Frisky & Mannish have been away from the Fringe for a while but the maestros of the mash-up are back, and they’re as funny, inventive and entertaining as ever.

Frisky & Mannishs PopLab, Assembly George Square Gardens (Venue 3)

Frisky & Mannish’s PopLab, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh * * * *

In the meantime, the world has spiralled further into chaos but, as they sagely note, “if you think we’re going to deal with that in here… we’re not”. Instead, in their new show, they offer to share the fruits of the research they’ve supposedly been beavering away at in their pop laboratory – a high-concept approach that allows for some scientific props, crystal-encrusted safety goggles and an interdisciplinary academic approach to taking the mickey out of daft chart music.

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It all makes for a research-based rollercoaster of melodic monkeying around. There’s an accomplished updating of Tom Lehrer’s period-table song to take in a whole swathe of elemental industry luminaries (barrymanilonium, anyone?) and a carefully calibrated investigation of ‘hooch’, or the tendency of certain singers to use pregnant pauses “to release built-up sass in a controlled way”. Other highlights include an unexpected English reworking of Bruno Mars and the revival of Rick Astley as a pretext for some assured improvisation.

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One or two new numbers feel a bit stretched or underdone, and fans will find a certain amount of material familiar from previous years. But a long-running bit based around tropical house music provides an ingenious throughline for the hour, and you can’t help but be consistently impressed by the duo’s serious musical skills and terrific comic touch as well as their easy rapport with one another and ability to have the crowd eating out of their hand.

Until 25 August