Jay Sodagar & Juliet Meyers in 4.2 Tolerance
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Two half-hour stand-up comedy sets. On a scale of 1 to 10, 4.2 is Juliet and Jay's average tolerance level to life's frustrations.
Despite the conceit that this show has a theme, 4.2 Tolerance is simply another straightforward, late-night club-style two-hander, featuring a pair of comics emerging from the stand-up circuit. But to add some interest and diversity to the format, one is Jewish and female, the other Asian and male.
Juliet Meyers is first up, claiming to be the more tolerant of the two - moments before deriding the entire French nation with a broad stereotype. When it comes to gags, subtlty and nuance are not her strong points, as proved by a later line: "Do black lesbians have bigger dildos?"
Not that this is a typical line in her routine, mind you. In fact, it's hard to say what a typical line might be, as her unfocussed, scattergun approach encompasses all sorts of topics and all sorts of styles. Some of them work, a couple very well, some don't.
This means her routine lacks a consistent comic personality; we learn little about what makes her tick, and the set is the worse for it.
One stance is suggested by the more anecdotal routines touching on New Age concepts, her veganism and a naturist dolphin-watching trip in Thailand, but if she is something of a hippy, it's not a viewpoint that she makes much of.
However, she seems reasonably at ease on stage and can fashion a joke, so if she looks more at who she is, there is potential to be tapped.
Jay Sodagar has the opposite problem. His stance that's more easy to nail down as a grassroots Leftie, but he fails to deliver much material from that soapbox.
His politics seem naïve, possibly by design, the stuff of slogans rather than debate. Racism's bad, tuition fees are bad, give firefighters more money, give teachers more money, give nurses more money, give doctors more money and for the only surprise give train drivers less money.
He complains that MPs are not representative because they don't vote the same way as his audience would. But then when were a couple of dozen twentysomething comedy fans representative, either? Their response also suggests he's preaching to the converted.
Sodagar's hatred of racists is similarly dumbed down, simply taking their weak old pub jokes and turning them around by replacing the word 'Paki', or whatever, with the word racist. He's compiling an impulse-purchase book of 1,001 of these, and surely won't have much problem reaching his target.
There are a few half-decent observations in amongst all his set, and a few half-decent jokes (though I wouldn't count his favourite 'It's Hutton dressed as sham' among them) but he never really gets to grips with his hobbyhorse subjects.
Both he and Meyers may yet have something of interest in them, but this unexceptional show isn't yet it.