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Jason Cook: Fear - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

‘It’s all right,’ Jason Cook reassures us at the start of Fear. ‘No one dies in this show.’

The disclaimer is needed because this Geordie comic’s past two Edinburgh shows have dealt with him facing up to his father’s mortality, and were subsequently wrought with heart-rendingly raw poignancy.

Without such tragedy, Cook must this year rely only on his comedic invention – and conclusively proves he can produce an hour of joyously uplifting and playfully honest hilarity simply from being a damn fine comedian, no emotional manipulation required.

He starts in straightforward manner, talking of everyday phobias from spiders to dentists, drawing in the audience with the banter skills so finely honed from compering around the circuit. He confesses to a couple of his own: drumming monkey toys, thanks to sinister experiences in his youth, and heights.

He chose to conquer his fears by jumping off Auckland’s 1,250ft Sky Tower attached to a harness, freefalling at speeds of up to 50mph before making a safe landing. Footage of the experience would provide an inspirational message for the end of the show, or so he thought. But it didn’t work out quite like that, and in typically self-deprecating style, Cook shows us what actually happened.

More of his own shameful behaviour is exposed as he talks about his previous alcoholism – the full-on ‘shouting at pigeons’ type – with a winning combination of flippancy and honesty. All his life seems to be treated in that same light way: a series of practical jokes and embarrassing incidents, all regaled with easy wit. All his life, that is, except the time he was banged up in an Libyan jail for international piracy at the age of 21 – the one thing he still cannot quite confront, thanks to post-traumatic stress disorder. Passing mention of those dark days gives his show a touch of drama, but he doesn’t like to dwell, before it’s on to the next bit of fun.

To provide a quote for his next poster, I can say that Jason Cook has more funny in his middle toe than most comics do in their whole body. But that is because his toe constantly Spasm in a quite frankly ridiculous way – which he again demonstrates for our comedic benefit.

There is a warm sentiment at the heart of all this, especially in his talk of his wife Claire, with tales that are affectionate but not over-romanticised, again extending that authentic charm. Fear not, Cook has produced the goods yet again.

Review date: 24 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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