Sean Morley

Sean Morley

Sheffield-based comedian Sean Morley made the semi-finals of the BBC New Comedy Award in 2015 and 2016. He performed his first solo show at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe, entitled Diffident.
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Sean Morley: I Apologise For My Recent Behaviour

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Leicester Comedy Festival

From the mealy-mouthed ‘I’m sorry for any offence that may have been caused’ to full-on mea culpas for lifetimes of morally repugnant behaviour, apologies are everywhere. So it’s a timely theme for Sean Morley, who has eturned to the Leicester Comedy Festival with what is literally a sad apology for a show.

I Apologise For My Recent Behaviour is, essentially, one long trust exercise as he plays inventively with the energy and expectations of the audience to fashion an unconventional experience, but a fascinating one.

From the very beginning, when we start with an empty stage, he allows the anticipation to ebb and flow, using an essentially repetitive preamble to seed different reactions in different people, and adapting his tone accordingly. It’s inspired by the off-kilter crowd dynamics and running commentary pioneered by Stewart Lee, but Morley is no slavish clone.

Our reluctance to engage in even the mildest of audience participation prompts a dry, but earnest, plea for us to take some responsibility for our own enjoyment, as well as establishing his low status, on the back foot against an unhappy crowd from the start.

It’s an exploration of the nature of the comic-punter relationship, and, after quite some to-and-fro, leads into the essence of the show: he’ll apologise for any discomfort caused if we apologise for being reticent or judgmental. But it turns out not to be quite so easy as that.

Morley toys with the various interventions his patter evokes, bringing everything back to the purpose he intended, while the path and ethereal tone of the show is reinforced by a sequence of trippy audio tracks.

However, for all its invention, at a shade under 40 minutes, this early version still feels a little light on substance. Although he’s proud that this show is ostensibly based on nothing, something is missing at its heart: we don’t quite get the full emotional journey, just the take-off and landing.

But Morley –  nominated for best show at this festival last year – is creative in his outlook and bold with his audience manipulation, creating the sort of encounter you’ll talk about for some time afterwards. For that, he needs make no apologies.

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Published: 9 Feb 2018

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Sean Morley: Earned Helplessness


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