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Jaik Campbell

Jaik Campbell

Jaik Campbell says he wanted to be a comedian since the age of eight... but it took him 18 more years until he first gave it a try, primarily as a way to help him get over the stutter that provides the basis for much of his material.

In 2001 he was a finalist in the Hackney Empire All-Stars talent contest – and three years later was in the final of the same venue's main New Act competition. He took part in another talent hunt, the late-night ITV1 show Stand-Up Britain, in 2 003 where he was again a finalist.

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Jaik Campbell : Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Jaik Campbell : Original Review

Jaik Campell certainly hits the ground running, with a volley of four or five sharp, concise gags that establish his credentials.

Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there.

After the efficient wordplay that opens his set, he starts to concentrate on the stutter from which he suffers. ‘Write about what you know’ is the comedian’s mantra, so it’s only to be expected that he will tackle the affliction that sets him apart.

But, from a comedy angle, there’s a very limited number of jokes you can do about stammering, and they tend to be based either on the listener guessing the end of a sentence and getting it wrong, or a situation in which not speaking quickly and clearly might be a disadvantage. The formula’s that simple.

Fair play to Campell, he does get a couple of strong gags from that premise, but it quickly becomes repetitive (ironically enough, I suppose) when a whole 20-minute set has to be sustained on the same pattern. But somehow, at the time of writing, Campbell has eked three hour-long shows from his condition.

But most frustrating, damaging even, is that he has absolutely no confidence in his own material. A good proportion of punchlines are accompanied by a hugely self-conscious laugh, sounding like he’s trying to convince himself that whatever story he’s just told is actually funny. This could be an endearing affectation, but it actually seems rather desperate.

He’s also anxious to distance himself from almost every one of his own jokes. Backpedalling furiously after each self-deprecating gag – usually revolving around his gauche incompetence when talking to women - he’s keen to explain that the story never really happened, for fear we might think less of him. But it demolishes any sort of flow or rapport that would convince the audience of his abilities.

It’s the demeanor of a rookie who hasn’t yet built up any certainty about who they are or the untested material they’re delivering – yet Campbell has been going since 2001, and ought to have conquered his shyness by now, or at least learn to work with it better than this.

Friday 13th Jul, '07
Steve Bennett

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