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Phil Buckley: Jokes Not Included

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Jason Stone

Phil Buckley opens his set with a rumination on the nature of the Fringe, recalling a time when he performed to a woman sat by herself. If this is true, then his appetite for such challenges must have been diminished – as my first attempt to review this show was thwarted when he cancelled, without notice, when only four people showed up.

There was no danger of this the second time around as his venue was full to capacity. Buckley's amiable style and slick storytelling appeared to satisfy an audience eager to be pleased, and he drew plenty of laughs despite punters having to bear a level of discomfort normally associated with commuter trains.

There are two broad conceits in this show, the main one involves Buckley's admission that he had become addicted to the adrenaline rush provoked by extraordinary stunts. The second, in some ways, is more interesting as it gives Buckley an interesting challenge. Apparently, every word of his stories in this show is true. This proves to be an interesting storytelling device as his tales are pretty far-fetched and his disavowal of exaggeration inevitably makes them all the more impressive, provided we're prepared to accept his claim at face value.

Before he gets properly under way, Buckley achieves an unlikely feat by conjuring a very funny bit about domestic violence which miraculously manages to swerve accusations of misogyny and poor taste. It's probably the funniest moment of his whole set and it warms the audience nicely for his subsequent tales of derring-do.

Buckley's descriptions of parachute jumps and leaps from buildings are told with a vivid eye for detail and the laughs keep coming even though the emphasis on truthfulness occasionally works against him. In fairness to Buckley, this seemed to be exactly what his crowd wanted, and they lapped it up.

This is a decent piece of unchallenging stand-up delivered by a performer who has the ability to aim a little higher. He plays safe here and it's hard to imagine his audience could have enjoyed it any more had he been more bold, though it would have made it more interesting.

Review date: 27 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Jason Stone

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