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Tom Craine: Comfort Blanket
Tom Craine: Comfort Blanket - Fringe 2009
Tom Craine’s Edinburgh debut is just fine. Nothing less, but, despite showing some promise, not much more either.
The premise is that he’s a rather hapless soul, ill-equipped for the harsh world; a man who needs constant reassurance just to cope and gets himself into all sorts of idiotic scrapes though his bungling. Increasingly this is the default setting for the stand-up: no longer the alpha male cracking gags, but a intelligent, shy, sensitive type muttering impotent complaints about the rise of lewd, drunken yobbishness.
Craine has a particularly sheltered upbringing on which to blame his state of mind. His father, a lay preacher, refused to have a television in the house until his son was 15 for fear of corruption. Such quirks have given Craine a peculiar set of foibles, the most ordinary of which is sucking his thumb.
Such facts, and their associated anecdotes, are a bit interesting, but far from fascinating; and likewise the comedy he derives from them is quite amusing, but far from hilarious.
There’s an Identikit rhythm to his delivery too, that also hinders his attempts to make a mark. Every sentence that’s a joke has the exact-same beat structure, followed by a prolonged ‘errrmmmm…’ to indicate where the laugh should be, or provide cover if there isn’t one. There’s little variation to this over the entire show.
Speaking of delivery, the thing you’ll remember most about Craine will not be any of the material but his strange stage pose, his arms crossed over his chest, the hand holding the microphone bent back on itself, like a contortionist’s trick.
Just often enough, though, he’ll pull a gem of a line out of the largely inconsequential blether, which forgives some of the plainer moments. But it leaves the impression that Comfort Blanket is less a show with its own raison d’etre than a personal milestone for Craine’s development; its whole purpose being to get that first hour of material together, leaning heavily on the best lines from the established stand-up set, simply because that’s what the comedy industry expects.
There is good stuff here, but if you’re looking for a top hour of straightforward stand-up, you could do better than this. And so, I suspect, could he.
|Date of live review: Saturday 8th Aug, '09|
Review by Steve Bennett
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