Jason Cook: Joy

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

‘I want to put a smile on all your faces as you leave,’ Jason Cook tells the audience for Joy – which would be a stark contrast to last year’s show when he reduced most of them to tears with his brutally honest material about his Dad and his health problems.

Well, Mr Cook Sr features heavily in this follow-up, too, but in nothing like such an emotionally draining way. This is about finding joy and jokes in everything life throws your way. Even serious illnesses can be a cause for celebration of the good times remembered, and if you love someone, you’ll always joke with them even – or especially – in times of trouble.

Jason reckons his family has always been plagued by bad luck, and he has the hilarious anecdotes to prove it. Hilarious, and sometimes on the verge of good taste, that is.

Cook is a good storyteller, not so much in that his tales are perfectly constructed, but because he’s open, naturally funny and full of good spirit. He instinctively knows how to jolly things along, when to bounce off the audience and when to get stuck into material. Spending much of the 11 months outside of Edinburgh compering comedy clubs has certainly honed that skill.

In his superb debut show last year, Cook started slow but built up to his heart-rending denouement that made such a hefty impact. Here, the laughs are much more consistent from start to finish. The result is not so powerful – it’s hard to see how it could be – but the aim of spreading the happiness is certainly achieved.

It’s clearly something genetic. By Cook’s account, the family certainly love to josh and tease each other at every occasion. And, of course, this isn’t unique to them; these are anecdotes that will resonate with almost everyone.

And that’s why the show works: the honest simplicity of the tales, compiled into a satisfying and ultimately uplifting narrative, expertly told. There is a big set-piece finale, but it’s not this one gimmick that makes the show such fun, however much Cook has spent on it, but the journey to get there.

With that, he certainly achieves the aim he stated at the start of the show.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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