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Tom Basden: Now That's What I Call Music-Based Comedy - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Julian Hall

While I can’t, hand-on-heart, say that the latest solo show from this member of the prolific Cowards sketch troupe has as much atmosphere as his debut, that won him the if.comedy newcomer award in 2007, I can say that the visual gags and most of the songs are of the same standard and so, hand-on-stomach, my comedy gut instincts were certainly touched.

Opting to speak to his audience rather than ‘hide behind’ his overhead projector and comedy song refrains means that Basden walks a tightrope between keeping the almost thousand-yard-stare approach he has adopted and engaging with the room. Despite the ever-so slightly nervy and prickly persona of Basden, he lets the music and pictures do the talking still. His asides are minimal, but just enough to keep this gallery of laughs bubbling along nicely as they merge with the accompanying musical ditties.

In song and in pictures, Basden’s inventive mind gives us sideways glances at all manner of things. He shows us the suggestions you can get on Google searches if you put in questions like ‘Why won’t?’ or ‘Am I allowed?’ and so forth, each one conjuring up searches from the philosophical to the ridiculous.

Visual gags such as the novel way a pie-chart can show percentage are delicious and there’s an irreverent take on America’s first family that is also exquisite. Deft comedy requires genteel words to describe, it seems, and Basden could run the gamut of them all.

The accompanying musical numbers are short and sweet and include his jingles done for unlikely clients like Buddhists. However, his closing number, about queuing, is epic by comparison and denotes the slight sadness and weariness that underpins Basden’s sublime skills at putting the world askew from its axis.

Review date: 11 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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