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Chris Ramsey: Offermation

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Offermation is a neologism meaning information that’s offered without being asked for – comments on YouTube videos being a prime example. So in that spirit, here’s an unsolicited comment on Chris Ramsey’s sophomore show: there’s not very much to it.

Really, it’s just a mild gripe about those annoying round-robin letters full of family news that you get at Christmas, the observation that it can be a bit embarrassing to dine alone, and a story about witnessing a bloke lift some booze off a supermarket shelf and do a runner.

Yet Ramsey imbues each of these slight occurrences with such passion and drama that he convinces you they’re important. Then he can undercut that self-made importance with a comic observation, delivered with passion and infectious, bubbly likeablity.

You could easily argue this is the scourge of modern comedy, of youthful exuberance triumphing over content. Or you could argue that, in fact, this makes him a natural comedian, with funny bones able to make even the mundane hilarious. Given that this show is actually cracking fun, despite the paucity of the raw material, I’d tend towards the second conclusion.

Ramsey is an established circuit act now, and a very strong MC. Offermation is not a show in which he expands on the skills he needs in the clubs, but uses everything within his limitations to produce an hour that’s breathlessly entertaining.

A round-robin letter from distant relatives Bren and Mike that arrives out of the blue one day is the inspiration for the hour; and provides the framing device for other, frankly tenuously linked, chunks from his set. It’s ‘too easy’ to mock the twee language and forced enthusiasm of such annual missives, Ramsey admits, but that’s what he does, reading extracts with sarcasm. However, over the three years, the characters of these people he has never met become more and more defined.

There is, of course, a satisfying payoff to this saga – and Ramsey’s in full flow for the masterful, if entirely contrived, conclusion that spins his initial cynicism on its head. And even though you know the joy is manufactured, you can’t help but fall for it.

It’s all hokum, but good hokum; and probably the perfect second show; reinforcing the promise he showed on his debut last year without any deviation from the style. However by comedy’s rule of three, he’ll really need to surprise us in 2012. Let’s hope so, for when he finds something of substance to sink his teeth into will be the day he becomes truly unmissable.

Review date: 27 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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