Matt Price: Poltroon | Review by Julia Chamberlain
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Matt Price: Poltroon

Review by Julia Chamberlain

Not so much a show as an entertaining, anecdotal, get-it-off-your chest hour. Matt Price is in the running for the much under-subscribed 'nicest man in comedy’ awards and has made modesty his signature move.

A poltroon is a 16th-century word for coward and it isn’t, as he said, much of a marketing tool, drawing only a small crowd to a refreshingly cold dungeon in Cabaret Voltaire. He’s not a coward, but you can’t call a show ‘Retard’ – and he’s reclaiming that word (as I vaguely understood it) for people who get there a bit more slowly and in their own way.

He described in affectionate terms some of his friends from the slow-on-the-uptake team and demonstrated a respect and warmth for people on the autistic spectrum, who apparently respond well to his easy-going personality and low-status demeanour.

There’s a special skill in commanding attention for true stories of unremarkable men, and Price has got that. He’s very much a people’s champion, punching upwards while extending praise and a helping hand to the confused and battered by life.

His rookie mistake was going acoustic because it’s small crowd: the room doesn’t shrink and the noise bleed from the other venue just a couple of curtains away was still intrusive. That was despite being asked to use the mic by another act – he did for a few minutes and then put it aside. Yes, it freed him up to perch on a stool Dave Allen-style, or show us his breakdancing moves, but although he was perfectly audible in the main, there’s something about the extra level of concentration you need as an audience without amplification that intruded. Anyway, not supposed to be reviewing the tech.

It was all pleasant enough with plenty of laughs and in-jokes for industry people but it was a one-way conversation is there (any other sort with a comedian?) that could have been had over a coffee or a pint. Price makes us a gift of his humility to the extent that you want to raise him from his knees (literally at one point) and shake some confidence into him.

Many of his stories are populated with humorous characters, all believable, some all-too recognisable. It’s difficult to sidestep an anecdotal life if you’re a comedian when every scrap of human exchange is cannibalised for material, as though it’s an anecdote worth telling – and it isn’t always so.

This is an end-of-Fringe, tired review, so apologies to Matt for making him carry the can for all the comedians who seem to despise actual jokes with actual tag-lines who are simply narrating their quotidian experience as though it’s interesting when mainly it’s not, as there are lot of them.

His was a relaxed and confessional piece, reinforcing the notion of an informal chat, but here’s got to be more on the table if you want people to leave the house to watch comedy.

Review date: 28 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire

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