Lawrence Leung: Skeptic
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
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In this entertaining show, bright young Asian-Aussie comic Leung sets out to debunk the superstitious, the supernatural and the psychic.
Not, perhaps, the hardest of targets. Superstar medium John Edwards - thankfully unheard-of in the UK, but a stadium-filler in America and Australia - seems a comedy staple over here; and with his slick style and willingness to con the grieving, it's easy to see why.
But Leung doesn't limit himself to flip jokes about celebrities and the gullible, though a few of these are included. His aim is to scientifically disprove the foundations of the believers - which he does with an increasingly stupid catalogue of stunts. Sorry, 'experiments'. Yes, this is another in the growing, and welcome, trend for reality comedy, whose most celebrated exponent is Dave Gorman.
The inventiveness, and sheer silliness, of the set-ups is impressive, as Leung tracks ghosts in Scotland, attempts to sell his soul or sets out to disprove the existence of karma. All illustrated with the obligatory graphs, pie-charts and equations.
The conclusions aren't always as entertaining as the premises: he seems content to cop out with a straightforward gag if what actually happened proved disappointing, and the veracity of at least one of the experiments is doubtful. Hey, when you call your show Skeptic, you're going to attract sceptics.
This, though, is to pick holes in what is a witty, ridiculous show, where science and stupidity overlap.
Former card sharp Leung is also something of an illusionist, and includes a couple of impressive, if underplayed, tricks here. It probably says more about what the audience want, though, that they aren't as well received as his mutilated stuffed-toy mascot, the angry poltergeist. Spooky.
But it's all good fun, a light-hearted journey through the phoney world of the paranormal, ably conducted by a personable, witty guide. But don't take that on blind faith - go see for yourself.