Jason Wood: My Anus Horriblis

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Like many shows at the the Fringe, this is far from your typical stand-up show - unlike many shows at the Fringe, it doesn't achieve this by being forward looking, original and different, but instead by looking backwards towards the old-fashioned variety show. Ironically that actually makes it one of the more unusual shows in the programme.

Stand-up, sketches, singing and pre-filmed video sequences are combined to tell a loose narrative of Jason Wood's worst year, his Anus Horribillis.

But while it might be traditional, it also makes use of modern technology. Wood's light-hearted micky-taking of audience members is taken to a different level (and away from the front rows) thanks to a bit of hidden camera work. The material used in this is old-hat, but the method is clever. This is somewthing of a theme, as later Wood makes an obvious and well-worn gag about the sort of music listened to by the youth of today, and what they'll be listening to when they're in retirement homes - but then takes it a step further by demonstrating it by dancing to the Pussycat Dolls' Don't Ya? with an older woman, who makes recurring appearances throughout the show.

Wood is also one of the few performers to actually make use of the fact that the room, like many Fringe venues, is hot and stuffy, by spraying the audience lightly with water and bringing on a strange shoulder-mounted contraption with an array of desk fans on it.

The show can be too self indulgent. Wood takes great pleasure in telling the audience he's been clean for 88 days but there's no associated joke; and an on-stage play involving audience members is flat and unfunny. Plus although Wood has a truly fantastic singing voice, some of the songs go on just too long - they might be impressive but for those expecting a comedy show, they can drag. Fortunately most of this is confined to the encore, where it could be argued Wood has earned it.

Also Wood is over-dependent on fairly obvious jokes about his own sexuality and campness, which leaves him in danger of being pigeonholed as a cheap man's Graham Norton, which would be a shame as he's far better (even if he looks more like a gay Charlie Brooker).

Still the pluses outweigh the minuses, and I still haven't mentioned the pre-filmed play starring Hal Cruttenden as Tony Blair and Stefano Paolini as George Bush or the lovely, upbeat ending.

Dean Love


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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