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Comedian Dies In The Middle Of Joke
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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Comedian Dies In The Middle Of Joke
November 1983, the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. Comedian Joe 'Pops' Pooley is headlining his local comedy club and no one's laughing. August 2012: together, his murder is reconstructed. Can you die with some dignity? Devised by award-winning writer and performer Ross Sutherland.
Comedian Dies In The Middle Of A Joke: Fringe 2012
This is an interesting little Fringe oddity, less a show and more a theatrical game, set within a comedy club, played out by the audience.
It’s November 11, 1983 and Joe Pops is struggling on stage. Even his normally reliable topical references to Rubik’s Cubes, Boy George and Margaret Thatcher are falling on stony ground, almost every line greeted with a sarcastic heckle. But his night’s just about to get a lot worse, when someone shoots him dead.
Here the last five minutes of his life, right up until the second before he was slain, are replayed on a loop, a reconstruction of the crime, with the audience playing the role of… well, the audience, on that fateful night.
As you file in, you are allocated tables – or you can sit out and just observe if you prefer – full of props and a script, which is disguised as a menu. The comic takes to the stage, and as the cues come around, each appointed punter adlibs their own heckle.
After five minutes everyone moves tables – like a mass speed date – and the scene plays out again, with a new round of improvised heckles, but the same stand-up routine. Plus this time, a willing member of the audience plays the comic, reading the script from autocue. ‘Don’t try to be funny,’ is the instruction. And another – which should be sent to all open mic comics: ‘Don’t go really slow like Stewart Lee.’
As the game progresses, the heckles, generally get a little funnier as participants figure out how it all works, or pre-empt the prepared comeback. In Edinburgh, where almost everyone seems to be performer, the pressure’s on to be sharp.
The appointed comic also gets to play around a little, miming out the deliberately half-arsed routine or getting to deliver put-downs such as: ‘I’d like to see you come up here and do this’ – knowing that someone else soon will.
It’s all a jolly fun parlour game, with no more purpose than giving punters the liberating licence to yell at a comedian. Even given that, it was a little disappointing that, when the murder finally did happen, there was no twist or revelation – just game over.
|Date of live review: Sunday 19th Aug, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
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