Paul Zenon: Off The Street, On The Road
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2002
After a break of five years Paul Zenon, self-proclaimed conman and wideboy, returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new show.
Paul Zenon's certainly no Paul Daniels. And, despite the street magic theme, this show doesn't put him in the David Blaine school of cool either.
He is certainly an excellent illusionist with an easy-going line in self-deprecating banter - a bit too safe to be called edgy, but giving the sometimes tired art form enough of a twist to keep things interesting.
His opening gambit, for instance, is a refreshing take on the old trick cutting lengths of rope in half - but Zenon uses the microphone cable. You might have seen him do this before, as this is more a greatest hits collection than an entire new show, but it's still impressive.
He also has a new twist on the dreary old interlocking rings trick, using jewellery from audience members instead of the usual cumbersome props. It looks like it's a stunning illusion, but it's far too intimate to work in the vast ballroom of the Assembly Rooms.
There are plenty of stunning tricks here - producing a bowling ball from a jotter pad, apparently slashing a punter's jacket and materialising a torn-up playing card inside a cigarette.
But, as Zenon points out himself, the biggest cheer of the night is for downing a pint in one.
That's probably because his likeable patter has endeared him to the audience as a loveable blokish rogue who is, in the words of the Fast Show character, "a little bit woooh, a little bit wahay".
His patter is littered with gags - some good, some appalling, but certainly delivered with confidence and style.
It all makes for a sturdy hour's entertainment. Not perhaps as cutting-edge the image suggest - well, unless you're only ever seen cruise ship magicians before - but solid, reliable and fun.
Rich Dudley - 12/08/2002
The review above states "...despite the street magic theme, this show doesn't put him in the David Blaine school of cool either..." A pretty ironic statement seeing as when watching one of Blaine's TV specials, Paul was horrified to find that Blaine had stolen his tricks and was performing them as his own! Keep up the good work Paul - you're a natural entertainer who doesn't have to resort to publicity stunts to amaze and delight your fans.