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Murder Most Improvised
Nominated for the if.comedy best newcomer prize
Stand-up comedy from the mousatchioed son of a Polish amateur scientist. SYTYF semi-finalist 2007. Comedy Store Gong Show winner, October 2007
Surprise if.comedy newcomer nominee Mike Wozniak starts off with some predictably self-deprecating jibes about his bushy 118 moustache, but it’s soon clear he’s a much sharper, more skilful comedian than that.
And that comedian is Richard Herring.
The similarities are uncanny: they share a cadence of pausing after crucial words as they determinedly push and prod the same point from different angles; they share a precise use of repetition and formal language in a tightly-scripted set; and they share a subtly underplayed sarcasm.
Despite the inescapable influence, Wozniak does offer a remarkably assured debut. The structure is rigid, with plenty of satisfying callbacks, and his delivery is effortlessly fluid, More importantly the quality of the writing is consistently high, no lulls or obviously weaker material to pad out the hour; a refreshing surprise for an act who has seemingly emerged from nowhere.
Actually, he’s come from Portsmouth and is of Polish stock. His family take an important role in the set, with his father an amateur scientist conducting all manner of unlikely experiments and his grandmother imparting folk wisdom she swears is true. A surprisingly high number of his antecedents seem to have met untimely deaths.
He’s lucky not to have suffered the same fate, given how accident-prone he professes to be, describing his misfortunes in entertaining detail. Many of these seem to involve his penis, but he mostly avoids being too ikky or offensive, thanks to his use of the exact medical terms.
His use of English is impeccable; this is not an act that feels like a conversation, you know every word has been fretted over. And surely there can’t be another show on the Fringe mentioning ‘perianal’, ‘medectophobia’ and ‘penisy’ in the same ten minutes.
Aside from his own misadventures, Wosniak likes enjoys the metaphorical literally – shades of Herring again – but is rather good at it. Even without his award nod, it probably wouldn’t be long until Wosniak made waves on the circuit (he already won the Amused Moose contest earlier this festival), for it’s rare that an act emerges fully-formed from the ether like this. But the style does need to be tweaked to be more his own.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Steve, as a fringe goer who attempts to avoid the headliners of the festival, I am completely shocked by your review. Next to the other less famous and better known comics who partake in the event, Mike Wozniak's was literally the best show that I have ever seen at the fringe and I have been going for several years now. Wozniak did not grab onto the momentary safety net of bad language, avoided the obvious jokes concerning his Polish heritage where possible and delivered an hour of very tightly packed and brilliantly produced material. Also, perhaps consider Mike resembles a mixture between John Cleese and David Attenborough in his manor and delivery. At around £5 for a hour, what more could any audience ask for?!
Yes, Michael (below), I'm sure I meant Richard Herring
Your review suggested that wozniak's routine and delivery resembled that of Richard Herring. Are you sure you're not thinking of Stewart Lee. I was at the reviewed show and while I liked some of the material, it really pissed me off how similar his delivery style was to Lee. "they share a cadence of pausing after crucial words as they determinedly push and prod the same point from different angles; they share a precise use of repetition and formal language in a tightly-scripted set; and they share a subtly underplayed sarcasm." Is a description better suited to Lee. You sure you weren't thinking of Stewart Lee?