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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Elise Harris: Under Your Feet
Join BBC3 Upstaged winner Elise Harris, and occasional special guests, on an adventure in urban and suburban archaeology. What exactly is under your feet? From back garden digs to exploring your town, city or village you too can find joy in everyday stuff. Rejoice in coins, bits of old crockery and ambiguous fossils and discover previously unimagined things about the places you live. Everything is an artefact! This show may not always be accurate but truth can be overrated. Elise is enthusiastic even if she's not exactly expert. She has over six million YouTube views.
Elise Harris: Fringe 2012
This isn’t so much stand-up comedy as just stand-up talking.
Elise Harris is, according to the Fringe programme, presenting a comedy show about urban archaeology. But wary that she’s got both a comedy critic and an archaeologist in the room scrutinising her (and between us comprising 40 per cent of the audience) she warns: ‘This will only be incidentally funny or informative.’
It sounds like she’s setting herself up to fail; and indeed not enough work has gone into this by a long shot, either in research or making jokes. How little? Well at one point she talks about the ‘murder dolls’ of serial killers Burke & Hare, telling us: ‘You can see these dolls in the National Museum of Scotland are apparently they are very scary.’
Apparently? The museum is free and not 400 yards from this venue; she could have checked.
But this is enthusiasm over content. Clearing up the overgrown back yard of her London flat, she unearthed various lumps of rock that she thought might be flint tools – a verdict semi-confirmed by the audience expert – or look a bit like a duck.
Her amateur ‘finds’ are interspersed with Wikipedia-quality information about famous archaeologist both real (Howard Carter) and fictional (Doctor Who’s River Song). None of this goes anywhere, nor does her excited description of her own minor efforts in the field, which has all the feel of a schoolgirl Show And Tell. The PowerPoint slides are projected too small for the ‘show’ portion to always work, either.
There are no gags here and at one point she even shows us a video of soil, but Harris is an endearing presence, and the 40-minute chat isn’t short on upbeat charm, making the experience an enjoyable one.
But it is also so incredibly slight as to prompt questions of why bother bringing a scantily-written, ill-researched bit of chit-chat to Edinburgh to play to a room of five people. It’s hard to see what the gain is for anyone.
|Date of live review: Wednesday 15th Aug, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
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