Emo Philips

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

He may have a new haircut that makes him look disturbingly like Dr Fox with a wasting disease, but otherwise little has changed for Emo Philips.

The familiar disturbed, strangulated delivery is still there, the same unhinged persona, the same pattern of disjointed gags.

And the gags are what it's all about. Philips has been described as the best joke-writer in America, and it would be hard to argue otherwise.

His finest one-liners are perfection. The sheer beauty of their construction a joy to behold. Punchlines of dazzling brilliance that arise from nowhere, only to twist into something even funnier and unexpected. The craftsmanship is stunning.

In these gems of one-liners, he sets demanding standards for any comic to achieve, and that even includes himself.

It may seem churlish to complain that in a routine that contains perhaps 30 of the best jokes around, the other 50 aren't so good.

But it does make a difference, especially with an act like this where there's next to no rapport between audience and performer. He cannot trade on a good atmosphere or the likeability of his persona to cover a weaker line. The gag is all.

It's seems paradoxical, but even a character as distinctive as Emo's really doesn't amount to much when the essence of his humour one naked feedline-punchline after the next. It's a routine that lives or dies by the joke.

The fact he achieves so many genuine laughs is testament to the exceptional skill he possesses, it's just a shame not every gag can be as perfect as the best.

Review date: 1 Jan 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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