review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Josh Howie: Gran Slam

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

This may seem like an odd complaint for a comedy show: but there are just far too many jokes in Josh Howie’s tale of living with his 86-year-old grandmother.

No believer of ‘less is more’, Howie has made his hour so dense with punchlines, that anything of interest is swamped under an avalanche of torturous wordplay and easy jibes about pensioners being incontinent, forgetful, slow-moving, technologically inept or just generally gross.

Quantity most definitely overwhelms quality here. He won’t use an adjective when he can use a comic metaphor, preferably with two or three taglines, too. While there are some excellent gags amid all this, there are also plenty of weak puns that bring nothing to the party. Meanwhile the subtle jokes that take a couple of beats to figure out aren’t always offered that time to sink in amid the relentless march of the asides, leaving the audience stranded.

But the main problem with such a intensity of quips, all told with a nervy, nerdy delivery, is that that story struggles to get told – as every bit of information is immediately undermined by a glib comment: was it true or just a set-up? After an hour hearing all about pensioner Angela, you won’t feel you know her at all – she’s just a dehumanised, archetypal doddery old dear who acts oddly.

Piecemeal, we learn that Howie and his wife lived under her North London Roof while they saved up for a deposit on a house. It was only supposed to last a year – in fact it lasted more than four. Now there’s dedicated research for a Fringe show.

There are lots of heartless jokes about this Jewish matriarch’s stubborn refusal to kick the bucket, everyday quirks such as bulk-buying toilet paper, and unpleasant situations such as finding her pubic hair in the shower. He also gets some tenuously linked material about masturbation, paedophilia and the Israel-Palestine situation into the mix, too.

But I’d wish he’d take a leaf from Angela’s book and slow down a little: concentrate only on the brilliant jokes, of which there are certainly enough, and flesh out his gran so she comes across as a real person we care about rather than just a foil for his comedy.

Review date: 22 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.