I've been reliably informed that surreal clowning is now totally "in" again, after The Mighty Boosh popularised and then thousands imitated their bizarre combination of a capella songs and surreal ramblings and everyone got very frustrated that comedians stopped delivering punch lines. I wasn't a huge fan of it at the time, but with the up-trend this time coming from acts who are performing on the circuit, not making it big on TV after small success, this new influx of comedy weirdness seems to be seen as more refined, often using clowning techniques instead of just bizarre tomfoolery without rhyme or reason.

Sadly, I can't tell the difference: it all still looks and sounds like mad rambling to me, and without any kind of sense of what I'm watching, why it's been put together or what the point of it all is, I lose interest after around 30 seconds. The small doses of Dr Brown (who is currently making rather large waves with a surreal clown act) I've seen I've rather enjoyed, because there's some sense in his act that he's hoodwinking and manipulating the audience: he's not the clown, we are.

I mention him again because he features heavily on Le Flop's poster, as his is the only quote – drawing obvious comparisons from the get-go. And Le Flop do, on some level, strike a similar style: performing rather ridiculous clown routines and trying to get the audience involved (oftentimes rather heavy-handedly).

The problem is that each member of the company has been given a character, and each character needs their 30 seconds (OK, more like 5-10 minutes) of fame – or these might be 6 different clowns who've decided to band together? Either way, there isn't enough to connect these acts, and Le Flop feels less like a show, more like a collection of ideas that don't form any kind of whole.

They've also fallen into the trap that all of the Boosh-imitators did, in that they think that the act will work better if it's longer: the more the joke is stretched out, the funnier the moment will become. And sure, in some cases that's true – but it doesn't apply to every single gag. The King's two skulls (to be... or not to be) was funny, and then got boring. And then lasted 5 minutes longer – and was still boring.

Also, I've always believed audience interaction works best when it's unforced and genuine – asking someone to help gives them a get out clause, and interaction beyond that should be light. But no, Le Flop's clowns were all hands-on with their audience in a way that some may have not liked or wanted – which felt awkward and unpleasant.

Surreal clowning may be back, but I'm still not wholly convinced that it's a goer. There are some great acts out there using the form, but there's normally something more to back it up, a nugget of an idea that makes more of this than just inane tomfoolery. Without that, it's just a bunch of idiotic moments... and that doesn't sustain me for an hour.

Le Flop, at Dugdale CentreChris Hislop reviews Le Flop at Mimetic 2013.2