Michael Fabbri: Dumbing Up

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Michael Fabbri needs to find more confidence in what is, for the most part, pretty decent material.

In his Fringe debut, he struggles to find the conviction to get his show under way, stumbles with some rudimentary audience banter and makes almost apologetic noises after each punchline. But when he does finally relax, the bright gags are given the presentation they deserve.

The first 15 minutes or so prove very flat, as he grasps for a way to own the show – even though it is his name on the ticket. A nice routine about middle-class jam-making breaks the ice, but then he slips into common material about every thick kid jumping on the bandwagon of dyslexia, and a rather tangled explanation about IQ tests that probably isn’t worth sticking with. The audience wait patiently for the first big hit; they can see he’s a nice young man but want good reason to laugh.

His chats with the punters are stilted and awkward. When he asks if anyone’s got a cat as a lead-in to his feline-based material, he’s utterly thrown when no one says yes – and admits as much. When one bloke takes pity on his floundering and offers up his parents’ cats, the ensuing conversation doesn’t throw anything up but more unease. Interaction isn’t his strongest suit, so he shouldn’t depend on it so heavily just for the simple advancement of his routine.

But after a while, Fabbri finds his mojo. The quality of the material rises, as does his confidence in just getting on and delivering it, rather than fretting about the state of the gig. Most punchlines are still followed with a hesitant ‘Yeah, so, umm, right…’ just in case there isn’t a laugh – but there is.

A routine about the level of debate on internet forums is perhaps the strongest, with a neat escalation of tag-lines as one idiotic post follows another; then there’s another sterling segment about being the perennial ‘evening guest’ at weddings that has a great payoff.

Fabbri’s quickly-abandoned theme is about intelligence, and he tells us how he used to be in the bottom set of every class at school. But his gags here suggest that he is smart enough when it comes to comedy – he just needs to stop selling himself so short.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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