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 there’s no gimmick.
It’s a tough way of doing it, however, as it’s hard to vary the pace, or give anything for the audience to invest in when it’s 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 Marx’s 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 that’s all they are. Consequently there are some properly bad-taste and/or dirty ones in the mix. Of course, they’re the ones that get the best reaction.
To help mitigate the impact of some of the worst, he’s brought on stage Parsnip, a cuddly toy bear, figuring that if you’re looking at something that cute, you can’t really be offended…
It helps, a bit. Marx can be a bit dry in his delivery and little things like this help. But you always know he’s 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 don’t stretch him much, and callbacks seem cynically crowbarred in, rather than emerging naturally.
As for the deliberate lack of structure, well, it’s 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 isn’t it, but it’s an enjoyable holding show, a useful reminder of his joke-writing expertise.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett