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Taking The Piff
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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Tim Clare: How To Be A Leader
Overthrown your corrupt government and wondering what to do next? Love democracy (in theory) but prefer power, golden statues and tons of sweet loot? Channel 4 presenter and award-winning author Tim Clare can help. Take a seat. TAKE A SEAT
Tim Clare: How To Be A Leader
Tim Clare’s ambitious Edinburgh show is an imperfect but intriguing concept, probing the ideas of leadership from the political to the cult in a personal bid to become a ruler of men by the hour’s end.
He’s clearly well-read, with plenty of diverse examples to illustrate the skills he believes are required to take a disparate group of isolates and bystanders – that’ll be us, the audience – into loyal devotees, willing to die for the cause. His references range from former South Korean leader Park Chung Hee to the work of psychologist Kenneth J. Gergen. But he never sounds show-offy with his knowledge, such relatively obscure facts only add interest.
But this is a comedy show, not a lecture, and Clare has some wryly amusing ways of illustrating his points. At the start he hands out Frazzles to those who need them, to demonstrate the welfare state, and dangles a Kinder Egg as the ultimate, unattainable prize for the rest of us – instantly creating a disgruntled middle class likely to receive neither.
Other strands including coming up with an ‘awesome origin story’ for your believers to hook on to, and his attempt to harness the power of the dark side, Baby Doc Duvalier-style, with the help of a psychic he found in the back of Chat: It’s Fate magazine. The contrast between the sinister tone of his emails, with their notions of world domination via enchanted headgear, are in wonderful contrast to the chatty, mundane tone of the white witch.
He chucks a few clever comic ideas into the mix – imagining the Queen behaving like a queen bee is especially effective – and generally there’s a witty tone to everything. Not that Clare is a stand-up; his background is as a performance poet, and he’s got the use of language to match. But he keeps his rhyming in check until the end, when he creates an entertaining rap based around female role models from Mary Seacole to Margaret Thatcher.
It’s part of the rich, complex approach Clare has brought to a fascinating subject. The funnies get a bit lost in the final third as the core theme becomes somewhat tenuous (a criticism he’s happy to admit, self-deprecatingly), but largely this is an absorbing, humorous hour with a bit of substance.
I might not yet be an ultra-loyal die-hard, but Clare’s assured show means he should attract a few followers, at least.
|Date of live review: Sunday 14th Aug, '11|
Review by Steve Bennett
Best show I saw in Edinburgh this year. Witty, erudite, highly original and with more depth than many bigger festival names. I also saw Tim with his two colleagues Luke Wright and John Osborne performing poetry in Aisle 16 R Kool at Banshee Labyrinth - stunningly funny and impressive linguistic gymnastics. I especially liked Luke Wright's rendition of The Model with Tim Clare's brilliant cameo role as a spot. Must see if you are still in Edinburgh.
Really cool to see postive reviews for the brilliant Tim Clare.
Of the 15 shows we saw at the Edinburgh Fringe during preview week, Mr Clare's standup was by far the best we saw. The use of props, powerpoint, acting, voices, letters, rapping, feminism and audience participation was masterful, and the content being both educational and insightful could not have been more funny. You actually feel as though all learning should have been taught this way! I wouldn't have believed you could have combined all these things in one show, but believe me when I say that this show is the success of the Fringe, and it is just preview week! Result: a MUST see, buy tickets now!