Carey Marx: Sincerity Aside
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Stand up comedian Carey Marx performs a show of jokes. Nothing but jokes. No time wasting. No time filling. No theme. All jokes written by Carey since Edinburgh 2006. All jokes have been tested for silliness on Carey's teddy bear, Parsnip. Parsnip strongly recommends this show. Adults only material.
This year, Carey Marx set himself the task of going back-to-basics, with an hour of straight jokes. No big idea, not even logical link between the gags necessarily, just feedline-punchline-repeat. The gimmick is thereís no gimmick.
Itís a tough way of doing it, however, as itís hard to vary the pace, or give anything for the audience to invest in when itís simply one line after another. But there is a purity to it, the show stands or falls on the strength of the gag alone.
Some of Marxís lines are very good indeed. They tend to come from the head, rather than the heart, and so are expertly engineered to be efficient, effective and funny. He says he takes no moral judgment about the jokes, as thatís all they are. Consequently there are some properly bad-taste and/or dirty ones in the mix. Of course, theyíre the ones that get the best reaction.
To help mitigate the impact of some of the worst, heís brought on stage Parsnip, a cuddly toy bear, figuring that if youíre looking at something that cute, you canít really be offendedÖ
It helps, a bit. Marx can be a bit dry in his delivery and little things like this help. But you always know heís only trying naughtily to press your buttons to trigger a response, playing up rather than playing hard.
Although his best gags are little gems, the quality over the hour is inconsistent. Some of the vaguely topical lines donít stretch him much, and callbacks seem cynically crowbarred in, rather than emerging naturally.
As for the deliberate lack of structure, well, itís still the segments that tell little tales in themselves that are the most successful. His recounting of the time he brought Parsnip along on a date, only to be stood up, is sweet as well as funny.
Marx has been bringing solidly funny shows to the Fringe for a while now, and has yet to find that crucial breakthough. Again, this isnít it, but itís an enjoyable holding show, a useful reminder of his joke-writing expertise.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett