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Martin Mor: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

There are smarter shows at the Fringe, more innovative ones, too. But if your aim is to sit for an hour and laugh for as much as possible, you can’t go far wrong with Martin Mor.

Well-established club comics often struggle at Edinburgh, either by failing to realise Fringe audiences have different expectations; or by trying too hard to engineer their material around a structure that isn’t there.

But the big, cordial Northern Irish comic has done just enough to give his sociable stand-up sufficient purpose to feel that the hour is going somewhere, yet is not too inflexibly tied to it that he can’t just muck about and have fun.

The theme is the most malleable one possible: image. To be harsh, you could say this whole show was an extension of the hack comedian’s clichéd lines about what they look like. But Mor – probably the UK’s most distinctive comic in appearance thanks to his impressive beard – sets up the show with a Robert Burns quotation, so this is clearly art not just a bloke talking nonsense.  ‘O would some power the giftie gie us / To see ourselves as others see us.’

So he talks of being mistaken for a biker, or a deviant Santa, or – in the word of a seven-year old – ‘an hilarious giant’. Don’t judge the book by the cover, he says: he got quite a surprise when he did just that with a hot-looking woman in Texan bar, in a story which ends in an old-fashioned Western brawl.

He speaks with animation and excitement. His eyes light up on some of the naughtier topics like a child in a sweet shop, and that feeling sweeps through the intimate Stand 2. Everything runs like a fluid conversation, too, subtle conversational gambits with the audience dovetailing with prepared material, but also allowing him to indulge in banter that’s actually funny. The trick is that he listens and engages, rather than just asking a question for the sole reason of allowing an opening to a routine.

The crux of the show is that he got Year 7 kids to describe him based on a picture, than passed those on to an artist who’d never met or seen him – and asked him to paint the man the kids described. The result doesn’t reveal much about anything – just like the rest of the show. But for a collection of hilarious first-hand anecdotes, you should ask for Mor.

Review date: 21 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 2

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