Noel Faulkner: Shake Rattle and Noel

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

Most people on the comedy circuit know Noel Faulkner as the owner of London’s Comedy Café club. They probably know he has Tourette’s syndrome, and possibly that he used to be a stand-up himself.

But that barely scratches the surface of his fascinating life. Faulkner has the habit of always being in the right place at the right time – be it at the heart of London in the Swinging Sixties, in a hippy community in San Francisco in the Seventies, New York as the underground club scene was at its most hedonistic in the Eighties and  then in comedy at the emergence of the alternative scene. He is a real-life Zelig, so consistently does he crop up in all the most defining eras of modern pop culture.

But occasionally he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he got busted for his role in smuggling four tonnes of marijuana into the States.

His amazing life would make an engrossing – if slightly unbelievable – autobiography, and publishers should snap it up now. With the equally absorbing Edinburgh show you get only a glimpse of this roller-coaster story, albeit very well told.

This is no uproarious stand-up show, but a compelling comedy-drama monologue, wonderfully told.  There are a few small nods to theatricality, a few sound cues, videos and props, but they’re generally unobtrusive, allowing the story unfold unhindered.

As you can tell, this is more than just another one of those ‘me and my medical condition’ Fringe shows. But it does throw up some insights into the syndrome – most notably than one in ten of us has some form of it, even if it’s just a desire to touch wet paint when a sign warns you of its presence.

The IRA, the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult and the sadistic Christian Brothers who educated him all get a mention, too, in a show that’s so jam-packed with scintillating content, there is, perhaps, too little time left for all that many really great laughs about it.

But the story is so great, and so skilfully told, that the hour fair flies by, and you emerge all the better for having heard it.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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