Matt Kirshen: Have You Seen This Boy?

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Matt Kirshen is wide-eyed with a Cheshire-cat smile that wouldn't look out of place on a Tony Blair caricature ­ and, yes, he does look like a child, even though he's 26.

But his most important characteristic is his ability to craft excellent jokes, which he attributes to an unlikely combination of attention deficiency disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. He wants to wash his hands 37 times, but loses interest too fast.

Whatever the reasons behind it, Kirshen is an excellent gag-writer, producing a show never short of solid, unexpected punchlines.

His main strength is that he never lets a good joke lie, following most of them up with tagline after tagline, each taking the premise to a slightly different, unpredictable direction. It's not overegged ­ he knows when to stop and has employs high quality control ­ but does mean you get more gags for your dollar.

The skill in the writing also shows in the images he can conjure up, with even something as simple as the fact he's got a peanut intolerance ­ rather than a full-blown allergy ­ producing several minutes' worth of descriptive, laugh-riddled material.

That permanent grin and an eager-to-please energy make him a performer who's impossible to hate. And when he brings out half-time ice lollies to cool his sweltering audience ­ to his only applause break of the night ­ his likeability almost goes off the scale.

This isn't a themed show, but it's still seamless, as he moves from one topic to the next without drawing any attention to the fact. He hasn't really got a strong point of view, nor does he bring much to his on-stage persona other than being a ruthlessly efficient joke-machine.

But that doesn't matter when the jokes are this good and told in a fun, light atmosphere. It all makes for an impressive Fringe debut.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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