Garrett Millerick: The Devil's Advocate | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney
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Garrett Millerick: The Devil's Advocate

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney

A fire alarm and full evacuation isn’t the ideal way to start a show, and there were only about a dozen of us who made it back into Garrett Millerick’s venue once the inferno had been doused/smoke machine had been turned off. 

Those who trudged off to the pub missed out, though, as Millerick gives you far more than most comedians manage in an hour. 

In Devil’s Advocate, the comedian is at odds with the whole world. He’s moved to Essex against his will, is becoming a father against his will, can’t watch a film on a plane in peace and gets a fine from his council every time he moves. 

He’s unashamedly a ‘metropolitan elite’, being killed by the homogenous suburbia, surrounded by Brexiters and people who only care about drinking and football. I sense that a UK tour around the provinces will not be forthcoming. 

Everything Millerick says is at full throttle, him sweating and raging like a caged lion. To me it never feels confected or exaggerated, instead, it’s an emotionally honest as the great comedians who trade on frustration and exasperation, like Louis CK. That is a definite win for Millerick. 

Also impressive is his ability to inveigle observational humour into a show of substance and intellect (he reminds me simultaneously of Stewart Lee and Bob Mills). There are some moments of real quality in the writing, too, some original connections made, like comparing children to mini-discs. 

Among the standout routines are the one about his quietly rebellious friend who doesn’t participate in enforced office fun, and Millerick’s defence of Friends as not being as fat-phobic and racist as a student suggests.

Millerick does delve into the issue of free speech while keeping it all within the realms of a comedy show – his rejection of Goldsmith’s University’s safe space policy is both solidly funny and an interesting push-back, and he has an amusing suggestion for how to limit the number of uneducated opinions the world is exposed to.

Millerick has become a genuinely impressive stand-up, with real comic brain and brawn. Devil’s Advocate is a quality in its own right and suggests he’s close to going up another level. 

There’s something that holds me back from unequivocally recommending it though, and it’s hard to put my finger on what that is. I think it might be the dynamic he creates between performer and audience. Devil’s Advocate is such a ‘fuck off’ to the world, it’s hard not to feel like we the crowd are part of that. 

Millerick seems to be saying that most of all he wants to be left alone, and nothing and no one can make him happy. It’s misanthropy that tips over into mean-spiritedness. Yes, he is specific in his targets and makes it clear he’s railing against the suburban, mainstream masses and idiots in general, so those attending an arts festival comedy show can smugly assume they’re in the clear. 

But even so, he doesn’t create an ‘us v them’ dynamic so much as a ‘me v everyone’ one. Going back to Stewart Lee, his world-weary cynicism is tempered by mischief and a cat-and-mouse between him and his audience. To be a Millerick audience member is to hear his eloquent rage and witness his superiority, and that’s not as much fun.

Tantalisingly close to excellence.  

Review date: 11 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney

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