The Growing Pains of Amos Phineas Klein Age 33 And A Third

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

When a comedy show is free, you have to expect an audience that isn't 100 per cent focused on the show.

But you don't normally expect it of the comedian.

Amos Phileas Klein spends almost the whole of the second half of his show playing with his phone. At first I thought he had some notes on the set stored on there that he was looking up: unprofessional but forgivable. But it soon becomes clear that this isn't the case ­ it seems he is involved in a text conversation with someone, while delivering h in an increasingly distracted fashion. It's a truly shocking degree of contempt for his audience.

Klein has been previewing this show up to three times a week in London since before even the 2005 Fringe started. Perhaps, that's just so long he's grown bored of it. But it seems a hell of a lot of preparation to flush away.

His show does a pretty smart premise: it's built around the Neil Strauss book The Game, the story of a group of pick-up artists who use canned material and techniques for seducing women.

It's a great subject for stand-up, lying on the fringes of the mainstream: not something that 95 per cent of the audience won't have muchfamiliarity with, but also something not so far removed from common experience that it will utterly baffle them. Unfortunately, Klein makes an utter mess of what was a promising set-up, through a distracted manner and poor writing.

The key to shows on fringe topics such as this is to explain enough about the subject to ensure the gags work, but keep it brief so the jokes keep coming. It's a delicate balancing act that Klein fails to comprehend as he spends about five laugh-free minutes explaining the premise.

It isn't helped along by Klein's audience interaction: his pre-show banter is amiable enough but not exactly funny, and once he kicks off into his material he makes a point of stopping and acknowledging everything that happens around him, such as people arriving and leaving (which happens quite a lot). This would be distracting at best, but 90 per cent of the time Klein has nothing funny to say, and is merely acknowledging them out of some misguided notion of necessity.

Klein's actual material is mostly hack stuff about the differences between men and women, and Klein even stoops so low as to read out a collection of chat up lines he found on the internet. A couple of these generate the biggest laughs of the show, but if you can read this then you're only a Google search away from finding them yourself.

Klein does have a few good lines away from the theme of seduction, but it doesn't mean much when he is more interested in his mobile phone than the crowd who are there to see him.

Reviewed by: Dean Love

Review date: 1 Aug 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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