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Fred Cooke: Standing, Tilted
"The Edinburgh Fringe creates many comedians in the same sea. If Jimmy Carr has a cruise ship, Fred Cooke has a canoe with a hole in it." Share in observations like this, and many more, as Ireland's most unique comedy export returns to the Fringe. Features a madcap mix of stories, music, delusion, and awkwardness.
Fred Cooke: Fringe 2012
To some extent excitable Irishman Fred Cooke is hoisted by his own petard. It’s his policy, apparently, to let in latecomers to his show at any time. The constant disruption that follows from this, in the first ten minutes, threatens to derail an already rickety show.
You can’t fault Cooke on enthusiasm though. He’s exuberant to the point of giddy. It’s infectious for some in the audience, but mainly the boozed-up boys on the back row.
Flitting between stand-up and song, Cooke generates a kind of jovial hostage situation. Among the routines that make us question his sanity is a duet between him and an animated squirrel. The song asks whether it is OK to sleep with cousins of varying degrees of genetic separation. It’s repetitive and manic and pretty ineffectual.
More effective are his slinky David O’Doherty-meets-Doug Anthony All Stars numbers about seduction, one focusing on Facebook stalking. His persona’s tendencies for creepy obsession are also given reign with a game show between a man and woman where each has to guess the next word of his song. Cooke facilitates an easy win for the girl and some comic fawning ensues.
Somewhere in amongst this mainly musically-driven show there’s a theme about struggle. The truest manifestation of that theme is that Cooke grapples with it so heavily. ‘I struggle with French...’ starts one routine, as if out of nowhere, indicative of the haphazard nature of the hour.
There are some good ideas in the melee of the show, but they are not that well executed. The best example is his assertion that his countrymen always resort to singing Danny Boy in times of trouble. His tries to illustrate this using the Republic of Ireland’s 4-0 defeat by Spain at this summer’s Euro 2012 football tournament. However, in the race to get to the punchline he’s neglected to colour his set up.
Clearly Cooke has charisma and drive, but someone needs to get hold of him and mould it, or he might forever end up singing to get out of trouble and not to entertain.
|Date of live review: Monday 6th Aug, '12|
Review by Julian Hall
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