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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Lee Camp is: Yet Another American Mistake
A rapid-fire angrily opinionated thought provoking adrenaline rush of verbal fireworks.
Lee Camp Is: Yet Another American Mistake
American political comic Lee Camp has a late show, but you need to be awake and alert to take it all in. This is a dense, intense essay against all that he sees is wrong in Western culture, largely laid at the door of multinational corporations that on the consumer end are all vacuous cutesy image, driven by marketing, but on the manufacturing end are evil monsters exploiting Third World children and polluting the planet.
Along the way he also opines on childhood obsesity, people who believe in UFO landings, the death penalty, bankers, assisted suicides, pro-lifers, so-called Christians who revel in wealth and superiority, Fox News, the media’s obsession with the trivial and plenty more betes noire of the American Left.
It’s broad, but often not as deep as perhaps he’d like, with a certain Kevin Turveyesque studenty naivety to some of the arguments that might go roughly along the lines of: ‘You see those looters nicking the tellies.. but I tell you who the real criminals are, the rich, white businessmen in their Armani suits, yeah.’
That bankers and CEOs are an easy target doesn’t mean they aren’t a worthy one, but at times Camp’s self-righteousness anger smacks of sloganeering, with only cursory acknowledgement that all of us in the West are, to some degree, compliant in all this. ‘People need to demand better media,’ is one sample rallying cry, bemoaning the celebrity obsession. But the wealth of evidence is that people don’t BUY better media, which is how this all works. So what does that fervent call to ‘demand’ better media actually mean?
Though he rightfully berates the modern generation as a bunch of ‘electronic uberpussies’, you suspect his political posturing is just the sort of thing that would appeal to someone who thinks clicking ‘like’ on a Facebook campaign page is as effective as direct action.
But on a comedy level, he is a passionate speaker and an eloquent wordsmith. ‘Electronic uberpussies’ being just one example of the elegant turns of phrase he liberally drops into his relentless diatribe; ‘mindrape of mediocrity’ is another.
With this subject matter, he’s on territory previously covered by the likes of George Carlin and Bill Hicks – so no surprise he’s not up to the standard of those comedy icons; even if he can sometimes meld the ideology and the comedy together smartly. One example is the slightly hack observation about the bewildering range of toothbrushes, which is seamlessly linked back to his assertions of corporate greed.
To break up his super-concentrated monologue, Camp uses some videos of stunts he’s done in the streets, which again have mixed results as he’s no Michael Moore. There’s nothing particularly funny or telegenic about seeing him hand out bogus literature; although his winding up the Texan government over a death sentence has a savage denouement.
Camp’s dedication to his beliefs is beyond question, and he’s clearly an intelligent and fiery campaigner. But for my money, he’d be better tackling fewer subjects with more insight and greater scrutiny, rather than trying to attack everything at once, which ultimately ends up as superficial as corporate customer service.
|Date of live review: Sunday 14th Aug, '11|
Review by Steve Bennett
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