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Tim Renkow

Tim Renkow

Nominated for best newcomer in the 2014 Chortle Awards; and finalist in the 2013 Chortle Student Comedy Award.

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Tim Renkow: At Least Hell Has Ramps

Tim Renkow: At Least Hell Has Ramps

It would be trite to say that Tim Renkow's cerebral palsy allows him to make dark jokes that other stand-ups couldn't contemplate.

True, the American's condition inspires virtually all of his routines, and, the patronising attitudes of others towards him legitimises him being a prankster 'asshole'. Even his bucket speech at the end of this free show is a cruel, calculated play for sympathy, though he can't quite sustain the falsehood.

But Renkow does much more than lean upon his CP. There's rare invention to his thoughts as he pushes at boundaries of race, religion and sexuality. His disability is his access but the sheer misanthropy he strives for is entirely of his own volition.

If people want to judge him on his physical shakiness or thick, bushy beard at the airport, he'll play along. But they'll underestimate his commitment to a gag at their peril. Such is his twisted worldview, that he seems genuinely touched when a stranger imagines him capable of a conventional suicide.

Sex is an especially potent preoccupation, as he considers his attractiveness to friends, fetishists and even rapists, greeting each with a dismissive insouciance, his thoughtful contemplation of any transgressive incident couched in passive-aggressive sarcasm.

In real-life, he's more active, targeting the able-bodied who use the disabled toilet and bamboozling shopkeepers as to the extent of his impairment with devilish glee.

When he talks about Jesus freaks doing their cack-handed best to relate to him, it's straightforwardly amusing for a (presumably) largely Godless Fringe audience. Yet when he's mocking someone who's misguided but well-meaning and who's lost someone with CP, there's considerably more edge. And when he talks about hanging out with white supremacists who've violently assaulted others with disabilities while attempting to enforce their blinkered bigotry, it's truly quite uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, he has a tremendous routine about the logical endpoint for all racism, a fantasy, naturally, as logic runs contrary to such prejudice. But in his ludicrous argument, he almost makes it seem plausible, and extremely funny in its arbitrary harshness.

Growing up in Memphis but living in London, his experience has been complex and multi-faceted. And while he resists easy categorisations about himself, he's has no great desire to ingratiate either, conflating English and Scots together with the world weary air of a 24-year-old who long ago stopped caring about the delicacies of identity or ego.

A grimly funny, characterful debut, this show confirms Renkow as one of the UK's most promising new stand-ups.

Friday 22nd Aug, '14
Jay Richardson

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