Rhod Gilbert And The Award-Winning Mince Pie
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Nominated for the 2008 if.comedy prize
The multi award-winning Welsh Misery returns with his hilarious new show following sell-out hits in 2005, 2006 And 2007.
A service station somewhere. Christmas 2007. About 2.40am.
Rhod Gilbert finds himself standing in the coffee shop bit, armed with a travel pillow, a flask and a very powerful torch, aggressively demanding to know more about an 'Award-Winning Mince Pie' on display on the counter.
Suddenly aware of what he is doing, Rhod is forced to acknowledge that he may be having a very mild nervous breakdown.
How did it come to this? He doesnít even like mince pies. The pressures of living in a tedious, pointless and absurd world surrounded by idiots have finally taken their toll.
Perhaps he should never have left his fantasy world of Llanbobl in the first place.
This is the slightly ridiculous story of how one mince pie broke the camelís back.
Rhod Gilbertís always been a good stand up, often a great one. But this year heís made an evolutionary leap that could propel him into comedyís super-league.
He makes great play about how he has abandoned for good his fantasies of Llanbobl in favour of no-nonsense observational stand-up about the real world. Only it turns out Gilbert doesnít interact well with the real word, and becomes increasingly outraged at every petty irritation.
The result is a relentless white-knuckle ride through the raging torrents of his frustration. Here is a man who takes everything at face value, thinking way too much about it, then letting his rage burn with the incandescence of a million candles at the stupidity involved.
The scale of his ever-escalating indignation is clearly ridiculous compared to the supposed crime committed, but as with Basil Fawlty you can empathise entirely as to how the never-ending irritants of the world could have driven him to such extremes. But Gilbert makes Basil Fawlty look as serene as the Dalai Llama, so emphatic does he get when making his valid points he just couldnít let lie..
All this pent-up anger was released during a trip to the Knutsford service station near junction 18 of the M6. You canít imagine many stand-ups getting 40 minutes of material about the toilets, canteen and tat-selling shop of a dreary Cheshire stop-off, but Gilbert elevates the Ďeverythingís crapí school of comedy into an artform, creating huge expectations from the most trivial things, then expertly describing the crush of disappointment when reality doesnít live up to his self-generated hype.
The story is bookended with a couple of largely unrelated routines, one about the Beaufort Theatre in Ebbw Vale, which isnít the glitzy rival to Las Vegas you might expect, and another about how his aging body increasingly lets him down, especially during sex. The latter might be a common topic among comics turning 40, but Gilbertís got an hilarious new angle on it, delivered with impeccable style.
In fact, the laughs never let up for the entire hour heís on stage, belting out material at full emotional pelt in a virtuoso performance. Every moment is exhilarating, passionate, and sparklingly funny.
Donít be surprised if the mince pie isnít the only thing in this show to attract the attention of award judges.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett