Alistair Barrie: The InternationAL

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

With no less a stated aim than uniting the entire human race, Alistair Barrie's latest show is rarely so high-concept. In fact, it might more accurately be described as a man with a mic, telling consistently good jokes for an hour.

Bemoaning the death of rational thought, seeing divided opinion everywhere, he looks to Twitter for some idea of where he fits in, returning with the answer that he's a 'libtard snowflake aunt’ – at least according to autocorrect.

Resisting newer definitions of liberal, he nevertheless indulges the idea of the snowflake, whinily impersonating the younger, touchier, disenfranchised generation in a caricature that's as energetic as it is exaggeratedly funny.

Comics have some claim to be society's bellwethers and he perceives a hike in the number of people being offended nowadays. Though hardly a new thought, he's certainly got the anecdotal evidence to back it up, recalling the outraged audience member who took him to task for using Syria as an example of somewhere horrible.

Equally, he gets plenty of mileage from sending up the 'PC gone mad' brigade, pointedly refusing to take the bait when some old buffer tries to engage him in his prejudice.

Because against the odds, it transpires that Barrie has a stake in the future of society, becoming a parent in his 40s and wondering what kind of world his daughter will inhabit. While not explicitly calling Brexit Leave voters racist, he notes them working towards the same cause, but then mischievously allows his prejudices about various European nations full rein.

It's the ingenuity of the arguments and the roguish glint in the eye that allows him to get away with such sweeping generalisations, an approach he also applies to fatherhood, where he dutifully follows his wife's lead.

Amusingly incredulous on the perverted power-trips of Harvey Weinstein, he's nevertheless got his own, somewhat surprising #MeToo experience. Related matter-of-factly, he doesn't even have jokes about it. But he acknowledges that in the current climate, to not mention it would be an omission. And certainly, it bolsters his argument against defenders of sexual harassers like Catherine Deneuve and their patron saint, Donald Trump.

After his last Fringe show about his wife's breast cancer earned him award nominations, he could hardly resist talking about their efforts to conceive, though rather unfortunately in the context of a Fringe show, there's nothing like the same drama here. So instead he imagines the reluctance of his lacklustre, aged sperm, a cartoonishly funny closing routine for a topically on-point but varied, very funny hour.

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Published: 26 Aug 2018

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2004

Alistair Barrie: Choice

Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Alistair Barrie: Happiness

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Alistair Barrie: Universal Adapter

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Alistair Barrie: No More Stage 3

Edinburgh Fringe 2021

Alistair Barrie: Unfurloughed


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