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Jason John Whitehead: Emotional Whitemale - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Julian Hall

In previous years, Jason John Whitehead has suffered from ‘Andy Parsons Syndrome’. That is to say if you weren’t partial to his voice, you were a bit stuffed for fully enjoying his comedy. These days the high-pitched hilarity has calmed a significant amount and it’s easier to hear the moments of inspiration of which he is capable.

The show opens with a video sequence of a superhero chasing a stereotypical Victorian villain who has stolen a distressed damsel’s tickets to see JJW, all parts played by himself. US comics Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal have produced similar, deliberately amateur, short films over the years but while they often have surreal and ludicrous touches, Whitehead’s was disappointingly straightforward and a rather flat start to proceedings.

Cupping his hand round his microphone and occasionally standing on some empty chairs on the front row for emphasis, Whitehead opens by saying that since Michael Jackson’s early death he has been asking some serious questions of his own life.

He attempts to answer them after mathematically demonstrating that Jackson’s life was on the right side of cool when he died. Just. This enjoyable sequence had a freshness to it that was absent elsewhere. Particularly unoriginal was his routine about drugs and assertion that all criminals should do them to limit their activities. Here was a tepid version of routines better done by comics more brash and experienced – and dead.

Luckily for Whitehead and his audience his success rate for turning around laboured and tenuous routines with a punchline or aside, was over 50 per cent. There were things to be admired; for example his assertion that his libido is running low, although you feel he could have made more of this confessional start. Equally his literally hands-on approach to disciplining the naughty children of others showed flashes of originality, narrowly avoiding an over-contrived ending.

Four o’clock in the afternoon is probably not the best time for a JJW show, as he himself remarks. Right time, wrong place, perhaps. Certainly not all the factors that need to align for a top-notch set have done so for the likeable Canadian.

Review date: 9 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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