Andrew Clover: Supercub

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

After proving himself a brilliant over-the-top character performer and a skilled audience ringmaster in previous Edinburgh shows, Andrew Clover is now learning to be a straightforward stand-up. He may need more lessons.

He also seems to be unlearning some of the talents that made him stand out in the first place - especially the ability to structure a show so it builds to a natural climax; the missing link in so many Fringe shows.

Instead, Supercub is all over the shop. There are good jokes, and Clover is an amiable, if overexcitable, presence. But together it doesn't amount to a great deal. And just telling us at the end what the point of the show was supposed to be is no substitute for leading us there.

The show's original theme was Clover's love of life in the cubs - the simple regimented discipline which he misses in the complicated outside world. Plus he's clearly a big, hyperactive kid at heart and couldn't turn down the chance to don an outsize cubs' uniform.

The wind was taken out of his sails when Big Brother dressed all its housemates in the same outfit, so instead he's ended up with this rag-bag of show that still doesn't feel finished.

We start with some vibrant, easy-going compering - assigning roles to audience members and denigrating his own talents. Clover is nothing if not self-analytical, and he often ponders aloud whether his jokes are funny enough, whether he can entertain without getting naked and whether the audience are having a good time.

The latter question should be easy to answer as, uncomfortably, we remained lit throughout the show. It's much harder to elicit laughs without the cloak of anonymity darkness provides.

He also tries a little too hard to be liked, too keen to act the dancing monkey boy if it'll please us. "Go on, shout out things that dogs do," he implores us, almost begging for the chance to win our affections with a nifty canine impressions.

It's not unfunny, but he struggles to take the crowd along for the ride, finding it hard to build any empathy. It may work better with a big audience, but the small number on this night felt too self-conscious to throw themselves into the proceedings.

Clover has the sort of confident delivery that convinces us he's funny, whether the material backs it up or not. Sometimes, it is, with stupidly inspired moments like the vocalising of a Soda Stream machine's emotions, but often it's not.

He's got charm, style and wit, and you genuinely want him to succeed. But with a mess of a show like this, it'll take at least another year before he can sew his Stand-Up Comedy badge onto his sleeve.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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