Matt Blaize

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

There's nothing Matt Blaize likes doing more than posturing, whether it's physically striking a pose or adopting some unambiguous ethical position for his material.

The only problem is, it's never entirely convincing. His swaggering manner is too deliberate, acting as a barrier between himself and the audience, even when you suspect he has something worth saying. Which is a shame because he has bags of natural charisma and good intent.

He makes the show sound as if it's going to have a philosophical bent, taking about the void at the heart of all of our lives and how we should fill it.

From what he tells us of his 34 years on this planet, he should have plenty to say on the subject ­ especially as a recovering alcoholic who tried to use booze to fill that gap, and having undergone therapy for sex addiction after his girlfriend of eight years dumped him for his infidelity.

Yet he never really shines any light on these demons, instead using the topics as the basis for some quite formulaic gags about drinking, vibrators and the like.

"We're here to challenge misconceptions," he tells the audience at one point. Later adding: "If we can't break down barriers in comedy, where can we?" They sound suspiciously like slogans, and though I'm sure he believes in their sentiment, he doesn't seem to know quite how to apply them.

He touches on race, saying he feels neither British nor West Indian. talking about the Ron Atkinson's racist comment and claiming that you can't have an opinion on prejudice ­ whether it be racism, sexism or agism - unless you come from one of the minority groups. It is an interesting point of view, and could be seen as discriminatory in itself ("How can you have a point of view? You're white"), but he states it as a given belief rather than exploring the ideas.

The irony is, he probably doesn't need to fake it. Underneath the bravado we see glimpses of a charismatic, friendly and above all natural performer who audiences would warm to for who he is, and appreciate more for his honesty.

This is most evident towards the end, when he touching recounts how he made peace with his father after ten years. Though the cause of the rift isn't set up dramatically enough, this segment feels so much more genuine and heartfelt, meaning the eventual pay-off, which diffuses a building tension, packs a stronger punch.

But even here, he milks things a bit too much ­ leaving obvious long gaps of silence where it's supposed to be poignant ­ but it's the truthfulness that pays dividends, not the deliberate delivery.

Until he makes more of this untapped potential, Blaize will remain a man who can walk the walk, but can't quite talk the talk.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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