Jason-John Whitehead

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

Dear God, Jason-John Whitehead has cut off all the dreadlocks that have defined his appearance since he has been gigging on the British stand-up circuit. 

Obviously, his first idea after having it done was, ‘this would make a good concept for an Edinburgh show’.  However -  and thankfully, most likely - after some thought it became clear that a haircut was not a quite a  good enough concept to sustain an hour.  Therefore, this year Whitehead presents a hour of straight, pleasing if not startling, stand-up.

Whitehead plays the role of the bemused Canadian to perfection. Whether he is being forced to check his anatomy after misunderstanding a threat or coming face to face with his friends’ sex toys, there is always an effective mix of both tentativeness and an ability to immediately see the funny side.   This is accentuated by his delivery, as he often speaks quite slowly as if he is never really sure what is going on around him.

He also has a playful sensibility that is blatantly great at creating comedy situations.  When he is stopped at an airport, Whitehead is far more likely to start slyly teasing the security men rather than playing by the rules.

He also has a deft ability to find gags and decent lines in some truly unlikely places, often shunning a more obvious gag for something else that comes in from leftfield.  Sometimes, a spoken line will not even seem like a gag before a moment of reflection, revealing the hidden cleverness in Whitehead’s writing. 

That said – and there is no doubt Whitehead is a supremely competent comedian – there is not enough here to make the show really fantastic.  This is nothing to do with the absence of a concept, but just with the fact that his choice of subject matter is just never distinctive enough to sustain a memorable full-length show. 

He has added a few nice touches - such as the concluding video of his mother’s reaction at his lack of hair (done in a way that clearly illustrates his playful outlook on life) - but in general there is nothing that you would immediately be telling your friends about.

Whitehead is clever, funny and mischievous and if (as he says) he really is moving away from the UK for an extended absence then the circuit will suffer for it.  But, unfortunately, this just does not all seem to add up to a truly great full-length stand-up show.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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