Ignacio Lopez: Nine Ig Fails

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

An hour-long version of Ignacio Lopez's upcoming 90-minute touring show, Nine Ig Fails is written like it's a landmark chapter in his career.

The Spanish-Welsh stand-up had hit a frustrating stop-start point in comedy, whereby his big break on Live At The Apollo was dangled before him only to be snatched away, but then resurrected as he finally made his debut on the BBC showcase earlier this year. As a consequence, he's spent a couple of years intending to swerve the Edinburgh Fringe, only to change his mind last-minute to boost hi profile, or, as with this year, hone this show to capitalise on his television exposure.

It's the triumphant framing for a tale that takes in Lopez's adolescent uprooting from sunny Majorca to Wales but mostly focuses on 2009, with his first tentative steps into stand-up and his pilgrimage to witness the final ever concert of his favourite band, Nine Inch Nails.

Struggling in a series of dead-end jobs in Swansea after graduating from film school, he toiled hard to make the US trip happen. Recalling his childhood status as one of Spain's few goths, the incongruity of all-black clothing and sulkily pouting in a warm climate exploited for some memorable visual imagery, you learn that Trent Reznor and his bandmates meant a tremendous amount to the young Lopez, not least as he was without his father for a few years.

But whether it's the industrial rock band's relative obscurity, or the tricky but steady evolution of Lopez as a comedian, making the transition from bar guitarist to stand-up despite promoter resistance to his foreignness and musical background, the inter-linked tales just aren't that impactful, the stakes never feeling that high.

For someone working a clutch of part-time jobs, getting to Los Angeles for the landmark concert, featuring the likes of David Bowie, was intimidatingly expensive. But not prohibitively so. And once his concert ticket is secured, you never doubt that Lopez is going to successfully make the trip. At the same time, he was enormously backed by his supportive co-workers in his stand-up dream. And the outcome of his efforts is stood before us on stage.

There's more grit and scrappy biography behind him being transplanted to Wales from Spain and the disappearance of his father. Even, arguably, too in his early days on the open mic circuit, doggedly enduring the late-night deprivations of the Megabus as he juggled his vocation with his other work. 

He has a great tale of torpedoing an early gig, completely oblivious to the fact that his negative characterisation of Newport with a standard bit of club comedy shithole-slamming, directly corresponded to a recent local tragedy.

But this is not afforded as much prominence in the mix of Lopez's formative influences as Reznor, who yet remains an indistinct, distant figure for anyone not overly familiar with NIN's back catalogue.

As ever, Lopez is personable and charming throughout, with little digs at British attitudes to foreigners and culture that yet retain an endearing affection. But Nine Ig Fails is not the great self-mythology that it strains to portray itself as, with even his favourite band having stolen some of his thunder as he admits in a wry, honest coda.

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Published: 28 Aug 2023

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