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Erich McElroy: The Brit Identity
American Erich McElroy is more British than you. He revised for it, swore an oath and learned the national anthem. If you wish to complain… join the queue.
Erich McElroy: Fringe 2012
Erich McElroy is a divorced man in his thirties from Seattle who, to be frank, still dresses and talks like a typical American college boy (stonewash jeans, T-shirt with a short sleeve shirt over it. We’ve all seen them).
He kicks off this teatime show with a brief explanation of how after residing in the UK for the last 12 years, he finally applied for and was granted a British passport. To help the audience understand the rings he had to jump through and the bureaucratic hurdles he had to overcome, he spends a good 10 to 15 minutes checking where everyone in the room was from and identified two audience members who had been through the same rigmarole as himself.
It’s very common for comedians covering any topic to start off with ‘what’s your name and where are you from?’ but for this show the process is useful not only for getting to know the crowd, but also for setting the foundations.
Once he starts the actual meat of the show, he makes both a brilliant observation and a mea culpa; the positive reaction of the British to the Olympics had scuppered a whole swathe of his material. Very honest and also described in such a way that the audience doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
He describes his first overseas trip as an 18-year-old high school senior to Germany and Austria with, again, plenty of honesty, some of it quite graphic for the time of day. Then, further along the autobiographical narrative, his first experience of the UK; namely Waterloo station. Again, this is described with a wide-eyed naivety similar to what you could imagine him feeling at the time.
We then move smoothly onto his experiences since he decided to live on this side of the pond permanently. Does he consider his kids British? Are his children more British than him by virtue of the fact they were born in Britain? The theme of identity is rich with potential and we are lucky enough to be watching a performer with more than enough skill to explore, satirise and occasionally simply take the piss out of it.
Of course, with a topic such as this, the issue of Scottish independence is an inevitable strand later in the show. More could have been made of this, but McElroy decided to stick with the Brits as a whole.
He finishes up with a decent stab at comparing the attitudes of the British and Americans towards violence, using the c-bomb liberally, irony and the British ‘round system’ in pubs. Arguably, these are slightly hackneyed topics but he dealt with them well and it rounded things off more than satisfactorily.
|Date of live review: Friday 17th Aug, '12|
Review by Dave Hampson
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