Pretzel Logic

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

At the time, it was said that September 11 marked the death of irony.

Well, ignoring the semantics over the word, it may well have done. But not for the reason you might have expected at the time - but because the bizarre events in the States are simply beyond irony.

Like his compatriot Will Durst, also performing in Edinburgh, Rich Hall has the inherent problem of trying to be funnier than reality.

He opens this show, a two-hander with Mike Wilmot, by playing the current American number 1 - a crassly overpatriotic Country and Western anthem by Toby Keith praising the American response in Afghanistan with understanding lines like: "We lit up the sky like the 4th of July."

And, welcoming the chance to perform Bush-bashing material (since you're apparently not allowed to criticise the president actually inside the land of the free) Hall launches into some razor-sharp stand-up.

It supposedly satirises his idiotic homeland - but really he just relating what has happened, as that's damn hilarious on its own. But he does so with passion and efficiency, maximising the laughs with his disbelieving style.

It's a fine routine, but when it's over, this under-rehearsed show starts looking a lot wobblier, as a number of roughly-sketched characters take to the stage.

Wilmot's over-the-top Texan patriot provides an effective foil to Hall's 'hippy' views and Dr Heimlich, inventor of the famous anti-choking manoeuvre, is a delightfully silly creation. But Wilmot in drag as Barbara Bush and Hall as a Klansman seem to smack of desperation, as there's no rhyme or reason to introduce them.

This fragmented show also contains a second Rich Hall stand-up routine which strays quite bit off topic, but contains the most brilliant anti-euro argument you'll hear, as well as some vintage material about how America excels in peddling QVC-style crap.

Pretzel Logic has several brilliant segments, but they only make you yearn for some solid, straightforward stand-up from its two skilled protagonists, rather than this messy rag-bag of ideas.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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