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Chortle finalist Nicholas Cooke, professional navel-gazer Laurie Rowan and token Glaswegian Keiron Nicholson talk science, conspiracies and childhood dreams. A spin-off of the acclaimed cult comedy night.
Gentlemen Bears: Fringe 2012
A bear stand-up? Pah, Fozzie’s been doing it for years…
But now there’s a new cub in the pack, as comedian Laurie Rowan slaps on the intricate make-up and furry headgear to perform as Chapsom Bear.
It’s a very nice idea, although Rowan doesn’t quite seem to have worked out where to go with it. There are a few ursine-related puns and observations delivered with a suitably grizzy, full-on style in the spirit of Nick Helm.
The result is decidedly funny, but can’t quite escape being gimmicky, even though there is such attention to detail in making Chapsom look as convincing as possible. It’s not quite in the league of Bridget Christie’s much less delicate, but more politicised ant and donkey stand-ups, but inspires some jolly lines.
Still, in his role as compere of this newish act compilation show – a transfer of a Brighton comedy night of the same name – Bear is used just about the right amount of time, moving on before the joke wears thin.
The first act he introduces, Keiron Nicholson, is a competent but workaday comic. He talks about being a bit of geek because he likes The Dark Knight and Doctor Who – two of the most successful franchises around, so hardly that exclusive – and his background in computer science.
There are some reasonable jokes deconstructing a sign he’s seen in the JobCentre or a folksy turn of phrase on a BBC science report, and they are solidly told, even if the Scot isn’t exactly owning the stage.
Something more distinctive comes in his final routine about visiting a Khmer Rouge torture camp in Cambodia, and the inappropriate behaviour of some visitors. The banality of their actions set against the horrific history of the place lead to some darkly funny comments, lightly told.
Nicholas Cooke is far more memorable, for his involved and bizarre story, set last Christmas, when he started watching an odd DVD documentary suggesting the actor Will Smith was at the heart of a centuries-old conspiracy theory.
He tells of what he learns with ever-rising passion transforming from cynical observer to evangelical convert, with fire in his deranged belly. It’s obvious! It all makes sense now…
That the culmination of all this is something of an anticlimax is part of the joke – which is very much about the journey rather than the destination.
Cooke’s yarn starts awkwardly, but once he’s got the key elements in place he can really let his imagination get the best of him; and some intense writing matches the classy performance.
Laugh-out-loud moments are rare, but the weird diatribe earns a mixture of amusement and bemusement. He’s a confident, intriguing rookie, making some mistakes but full of promise for the future.
|Date of live review: Tuesday 14th Aug, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
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