Michael Fabbri: Buffering | Review by Jay Richardson
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Michael Fabbri: Buffering

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Jay Richardson

Introducing his show with some admissions of weakness – his bad memory, dyslexia and experience of being punched at last year's festival, Michael Fabbri establishes himself as someone mildly challenged by life. He might be perpetually undermined by the spellcheck on his computer, but his teachers once reassured him that he's very intelligent – he just can't express it.

That's only partially true, as this capable comic sells himself short with some initial hesitation and a sporadic lack of confidence in his material, occasionally offering decent jokes apologetically rather than delivering them. His title simply refers to a gag coming up later, he explains, seemingly embarrassed by his lack of overarching theme, dampening rather than raising expectation.

What follows is unquestionably a mixed bag, with the storytelling strands stronger than the observational gags. Nevertheless, Fabbri's distinctively off-kilter views and easy shifting of gears between bewilderment and acute perception is effective. Given the run-around by horses and Turkish carpet merchants, he can nevertheless envisage an alternative world where bees commute on trains and there are far more exciting means of corpse disposal than burial or cremation.

His vision of a reverse Narnia falls flat. As does some aimless musing on cow tipping that convinces you of the distress to the animals without much in the way of compensatory punchline. A theory about 'gay racism' is philosophically sound but needs a more robust set-up if it's not to prompt uncomfortable shifting in seats. But he's very funny on pornography's alienating lack of chivalry and its weird aspirations to word-of-mouth promotion, a companion piece to an incredulous routine on Megabus' unnecessarily prying website.

As related in a previous show, he once worked in a Job Centre in a rough part of South London, obviously a productive time in at least one sense, as he mines more anecdotes from a recession hitting every strata of society.

Most memorable though are the two stories that close the show. Evolving out of a simple culture clash, the first recalls the time he gave two Americans a lift to Brighton. Listening to Radio 4, he brilliantly evokes their utter bewilderment at the eclectic programming, lifting the quintessentially British scheduling out of its everyday context and conveying it afresh through foreigners' incomprehension. And having performed his Good Samaritan service, there's a fabulously cruel sting in the tale.

Finally, he offers a bit of reportage from last year's Olympic Games opening ceremony, with his mother delighted to have won them tickets. A densely detailed account of their experience in the stadium that night, he weaves the multiple preoccupations of her and those around him into an elaborate tapestry, neatly drawing all the strands together before an amusing visual flourish for the benefit of extreme latecomers with extreme nationalist views.

Not all gold but an entertaining hour nonetheless.

Review date: 19 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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