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George Ryegold: Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

George Ryegold’s Edinburgh debut is presented as a medical lecture from a physician with all the sensitivity and bedside manner of Harold Shipman.

Delicate medical complaints – inevitably involving excretions, secretions or engorged sexual organs – are described in uncompromisingly graphic detail. On the surface of it, he tries to be delicate, using a combination of elaborate euphemism, dry textbook terminology and an educated command of the adjective. But the formality of the language only heightens the hideous mental images: the bottom line is that he is as sick as Jim Jeffries, but with the vocabulary of Stephen Fry.

The basis of the show lies in the tradition of medical revue, in which ribald students joking about the gruesome with no sense of decorum – nor, indeed wit. But Ryegold has single-handedly made it classy, offering a considered antidote to shock-for-shock’s sake humour, while still referencing the same ikky subjects.

Fans of Viz’s Profanisaurus might enjoy such expressions as ‘tumescent plum-cupboard’, among countless others, as he discusses such troubling conditions as recto-vaginal fistula, or the knotted hammock of pubic hair blocking the sphincter. Delightful.

Shock is a major factor, which obviously dims over time as his style becomes more familiar, and there are lulls as he tries to add variation. But routines such as his miserable rant at Third World charities don’t have the impact of the medical stuff.

While the comedy risks being one-note, it’s a note he strikes very well, with a perfectly credible persona of the heartless doctor now numbed to the suffering he sees, describing all with matter-of-fact detachment and an exquisite use of metaphor. The result is some of the most hilariously bad-taste lines of the festival, perhaps in need of more context and more texture, but a hugely accomplished debut.

Review date: 10 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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