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Jon Holmes: Rock Star Babylon - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Marissa Burgess

Though he begins the show with some self-deprecating remarks about how he’s not that famous and points out that we could have chosen to see the students performing in the fudge kitchen at that time, there’s little doubt that Holmes has a following.

Not surprising considering how much he’s done over the years; he’s a prolific writer, broadcaster and DJ – though probably most famous in the room for his work on Radio 4’s Now Show. Indeed Holmes’ opening, visual, gag plays on a running joke from the topical show, as the mic is set up far too high for him; a gag swiftly followed by a letter from co-star Hugh Dennis containing further jibes about his height.

After a few topical gags Holmes gets to the meat of the show. He’s hitting the festival for a week long run reading from his book of rock ‘n’ roll maybe real, maybe not, stories – Rock Star Babylon. There’s nothing too surprising or shocking about the rock stars’ misdemeanours featuring a injured spandexed scrotum, scatological hair-drying and the (im)practicalities of anal cocaine absorption.

Nevertheless it’s entertaining stuff and the opening anecdote featuring Status Quo’s apparent run-in with a kangaroo is nicely surreal. The show also allows Holmes to confess his love of Bon Jovi over the likes of the ‘overrated’ Bob Dylan and to critique Chris De Burgh’s toe-curling A Spaceman Came Travelling. Interspersed throughout the set, Stephen Fry’s voice lends itself to Hitchhiker-style footnotes offering an enjoyably, ‘faintly sarcastic’ addition to events.

But the highlight here is a short film that proves to anyone who holds the misconception that getting published was a passport to instant fame and success, that sometimes you have to give the bookshops a helping hand in marketing your book.

Review date: 21 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess

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