Pete Cain: The Idea Hunter

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Review

For his ambitious Edinburgh debut, Pete Cain has set himself quite an obstacle of irony to overcome.

He opens with a formidable barrage of abuse at the world in general. The reason we're on the brink of ecological disaster, and that everything in Britain is so knackered, is because there are simply too many of us.

It's then only a small step till you think about killing people, Cain muses in his downbeat grump. Genocide's had a bad press, but if we slaughter the right people ­ idiots, traffic wardens, officious jobsworths who hide behind unbending petty rules ­ then we can thin the numbers

OK, so we get that he probably isn't really advocating large-scale slaughter. But he still paints an unremittingly bleak picture of the world. Everybody else, in his eyes, is 'one more person in the queue before you'. He might be picking on people who deserve scorn, but that overarching philosophy is the sort of selfish, insular, negative attitude that makes the Daily Mail such a hit.

That's where the obstacle of irony comes in. Does he really mean it, or he using his stand-up in some kind of detached Alf Garnett way to make us analyse our own thinking? It's never quite resolved.

I suspect the latter, mind, as Cain's stance later emerges as a dissenter and libertarian who you'd expect to exhibit more tolerance for his fellow humans - but maybe he's just as contradictory as we all are.

It makes for an absorbing hour, mind, if not always laugh-out-loud funny. Cain's an intelligent wordsmith and a decent storyteller; as he recounts his little acts of rebellion against rip-off airport car parks or obstinate bus drivers, we all root for him.

He's provocative, too, on the war on terror. Deaths for such attacks are statistically insignificant compared to road accidents, so he puts forward some controversial, but strangely logical, solutions that might find a compromise without the loss of our civil liberties.

Well, we were warned. At the very start of the show, he told us: 'I'll be doing some fairly dark material at times, so hopefully I'll offend some of you.'

It's possible, but more likely he'll make you think. And sometimes laugh.

 

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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