John Gordillo: Free

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

John Gordillo’s under no illusions about his situation. He’s playing a free gig in the middle of the day in a room flooded with light from an uncovered skylight to an audience who have no investment in being there while battling the symptoms of a cold. So down is he on the whole experience, and so long does he talk about it, that you do start to question the wisdom of being here, too. It’s not reassuring.

Gradually, however, we move on to his material and things pick up. And I do mean gradually. Gordillo takes things very much at his own, unhurried pace. He meanders amiably until he can steer the one-sided conversation around to his set-ups, reacting to the room and wandering freely on and off-mic, all of which gives the show a natural flow, but at the expense of punchlines.

It’s all about building up a rapport, then an intricate edifice to set the scene, which Gordillo can bring tumbling down like a house of cards when the comedy is revealed. He favours the long, grandiose build-ups, with just three or four substantial routines over the hour: about his inappropriate actions during a film about 9/11, a row with his girlfriend prompted by mentioning an ex, or about the general weirdness of the funeral process. It’s grown-up material, for the most part ill-suited to a 5pm show, with a mature delivery to match.

This is his first Edinburgh in several years, following a sabbatical from stand-up, but Gordillo is an experienced, confident hand, easily able to string the audience along with these scenarios through his effortlessly fluid approach. And as we’ve invested a lot in hearing the stories, the laugh is greater when the joke is revealed even if, under a more sober analysis, the punchline could be stronger for such a build-up

Gordillo’s given a lot of advice to a lot of comedians over the years, as acclaimed director to the likes of Eddie Izzard and Reginald D Hunter, so it seems odd to be giving some back to him. But it would have to be that rapport is great, but don’t be afraid of gags for their own sake.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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