James Cook: Always Be Rolling | Review from Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival

James Cook: Always Be Rolling

Review from Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival

James Cook is a player. A player of The Settlers Of Catan, that is, more than anything more hip-hop. He's a devotee of board games and Always Be Rolling is a love letter to his admittedly geeky-sounding pursuit.

Well, it’s not all love. There’s some disdain, too, primarily for Monopoly, the dominant force in the market despite not fulfilling Cook’s basic requirements of a good game – that is, to be fun.

Liking more obscure titles clearly marks him out as a nerd – an impression reinforced by the staggeringly awful marketing of most titles, with their dry, pretentious names and dreary artwork. This gives Cook a way into the subject, mocking the image of his hobby, while still being able to convey his passion, frustrated at its largely self-inflicted marginalisation.

And such his conviction about these games that many will be making mental shopping lists of his recommendations… though you don’t need to, he hands out a printed list at the end for those whose interest is piqued.

The show is very much in the Dave Gorman vein, heavily dependent on PowerPoint and even including an audience pledge at the end to widen our board-gaming horizons. Birmingham-based Cook hasn’t got Gorman’s analytical insight, and sometimes the screen seems like a crotch, although it conveys a few nifty sight gags, too.

The audience are invited to play real-life versions of a couple of childhood games as digressions - although only a pedant would point out that Buckaroo and Hungry Hippos are not strictly board games. Still, as Cook freely admits, pedantry is all part of being a board gamer... We even get 'I think you'll find...' cards to play smugly, if ever we spot an error.

Always Be Rolling is no comedic game-changer, but it is an amusing, affable and informative stroll through a pastime that Cook convincingly argues is unfairly obscure, especially given that pretty much everyone possesses a Monopoly board. And this show is certainly an hour better spent than an hour of playing that…

Review date: 15 Feb 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester Exchange Bar

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