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Gareth Richards: Stand Up Between Songs

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Gareth Richards isn’t even considered the funny one in his own family.

And you can see what they mean, as you would not immediately think hilarity courses through his veins. If you were told this mild-mannered 30-year-old was your company’s human resources manager for the East Midlands, rather than a favoured new comic, you wouldn’t seem surprised.

But behind that unassuming buttoned-down façade and rather hesitant delivery lies quirkily assured writing, from silly wordplay to melancholic self-evaluation.

As the title tells you, his Edinburgh debut is a mixture of stand-up and songs, which are accompanied by the ominchord, a sort of kitsch electronic harp from the 80s with a range of preset backing beats.

Musically, we get four sweetly downbeat numbers. The opening Dave The Fridge is the stand-out, tentatively pushing an tenuous metaphor further and further, yet never quite breaking it; while the closing This Song Could Be Used In Adverts is as cheekily knowing as the title suggests. Mum is a straighter song that just happens to be slightly funny – if the Divine Comedy released it you won’t bat an eyelid – while Don’t Go Out With… is the weakest link, being simply a selection of very simple jokes (eg the IT man will turn you off and on again).

The gags in his stand-up are similarly patchy, with a few exquisite lines emerging from what’s often not particularly interesting discussion. The theme to the show, and there barely is one, is his changing attitudes for mortality now he has a baby of his own. But Richard – known to some as Frank Skinner’s radio sidekick – is better when idly pondering about the minutiae of power sockets on trains, wooden spoons or speed cameras, with an eye on the smart, offbeat payoff at the end.

As a Fringe debut, Richards has proved, probably to himself as much as anyone, that he’s more than capable of holding an hour. Now he needs to figure out what to do with that knowledge.

Review date: 14 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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