Sol Bernstein – Original Review | Review by Steve Bennett

Sol Bernstein – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Sol Bernstein is a decidedly old-school Jewish comic, straight outta the Catskills, with the relentless patter and sharp tongue on which the entire stand-up artform was founded,

He’s not real, of course. Only a schmuck – or the critic who reviewed his Edinburgh show as if he were – would think that. Rather, he’s the alter ego of London comic Steve Jameson, who has added a few years and a lot more chutzpah to his own personality to create him.

There is something about the rat-a-tat rhythms and occasional lapses into Yiddish slang that made the comics of the original so-called Borscht Belt inherently funny, and Jameson is keen to capitalise on that. Some of his jokes and spiel may be decidedly old hat, but the pace at energy at which the material is thrust forward bulldozes any resistance.

He has also updated the age-old banter, so now the ceaseless tirade of insults might apply to Prescott, Blair or Blunkett – though the pace of events means these frames of reference will surely need updating soon, too. Bernstein’s acidic character is the perfect channel for bitter spleen-venting, as each day’s news makes this octogenarian trooper’s blood boil all the more.

Not that all the gags are aimed at public figures. There are cracks about his advancing years, and plenty of quick, spiky insults hurled at those in the front row, but in time-honoured fashion always diffused with an equally insincere compliment - ‘Honestly, sweetheart, you’re beautiful’ – before the next target is found.

This affectionate throwback to when comedy was all about the gag, and nothing more, may appeal primarily for nostalgic reasons, but the sharpness of the jokes shows there is still life in the old formats yet.

Review date: 14 May 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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