Gavin Webster: Webster's Pictionary

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Gavin Webster has an hilarious running joke that his old-fashioned brand of silly gaggery is unfashionable, with no place in the comedy trade fair that is Edinburgh. But it’s all about presentation, and here he seems to have found a flattering way to showcase his armoury of jokes that are both no-nonsense yet simultaneously full of it.

The result is a slightly shambolic, Knockabout hour of unpretentious comedy, sometimes sublime, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes both, sometimes neither. But the self-aware spirit of playfulness that pervades the hour pretty much ensures you’re always smiling.

Stand 2’s tiny stage is full of clutter: filing cabinet, flip chart, A4 files, a banjo, a man operating the PC. This show is, Webster frequently tells us, ‘a veritable plethora of things’ – excessive repetition being one of the most effective tools in his comedy shed.

It’s a haphazard, scattergun romp through his years of material. He opens with a devastating burst of one-liners, including one or two sublime ones, before leaping around, seemingly at his own whim, through all the other things to hand or in his head.

He has a computerised ‘randomiser’ which he consults occasionally to give him a prompt for a certain routine, though you’re never sure whether this is genuinely by chance or not, by dint of it being on screen, rather than a real wheel of fortune.

It’s a very fast-moving show, so when a segment fail, at least you don’t have to wait too long for him to move on. It seems to be the longer bits that are more likely not to work, the ‘dog affection chart’, a routine about toilet graffiti or another about grumpy neighbours, being prime examples.

But elsewhere, his daftness is little short of surreal genius. A heads-or-tails gag or a recurring parody of the Grumpy Old… series are as good as anything Vic Reeves could have come up with.

Webster is a knowing, inventive , affable comic, good at having ideas, bad at developing them, which is why the quickfire approach he’s adopted in this wonderfully absurdist show works so well.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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