THE WIT AND WISDOM OF THE WILLIAMS BOYS – Buxton Festival Fringe review


It was torrential rain as I arrived at ‘The Source’ cafeteria but I received a warm and informal welcome. I purchased a coffee and sat at my table.

Jim and Alan Williams (not related) are the Wit and Wisdom, respectively in the title of this event, although, each provided much of both in their readings and song lyrics. A combination of spoken word, humour and light fingered keyboard jazz.

The evening began with a witty song written by Alan, sung as a duet, ‘Who’s on First’. Not the Abbott and Costello sketch, although this is acknowledged in the lyrics.

And so Jim was ‘on first’. In a pink shirt, with coloured braces and doffing a trilby, he opened his series of seven readings explaining that his theme for the evening was the importance of everyone to write their autobiography. Written, not for public consummation but written for their grandchildren, in order to pass on thoughts and images from past times.

His first reading was an example of the sort of things one should include. This essay was called ‘Nelly’, Jim’s grandmother.

Each of Jim’s readings was followed by a related song, sung by Alan, mostly to familiar tunes with Alan’s own, often hysterically funny, lyrics.

The combination of anecdotal stories (including a poem by Clive James) from Jim and the music of Alan made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I found myself wanting to applaud some of the lyrics before the song had finished; often laughing out loud, so clever and witty were they.

The music was predominantly lively Jazz with excursions to Peter Skellern, Tom Paxton, Burt Bacharach (‘Only, 24 minutes from Disley’).

I enjoyed so much of the stories and songs many of which I can’t explain without giving away the surprises within the stories of the readings and the lyrics of the songs. A side splitting Franglais song; The Midday Vampires of Bergerac (reading); Tom Lehrer’s ‘The Masochism Tango’ and you won’t believe how many words there are which rhyme with Bruce and we laughed as we heard each one.

Unfortunately they have no more performances in this years Fringe. I do hope they come back next year, perhaps at a bigger venue.

This was a real treat from two very talented men who combine their skills to produce a fulfilling hour of top class entertainment! They should have their own weekly half hour TV series. They should have an appreciative audience; they certainly did this evening.

Martin Wood