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Jimmy McGhie: Artificial Intelligence

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julia Chamberlain

This is an excellent hour with a mix of thoughtful themes, social observation, chirpy smut and personal warmth.

Kicking off with the now-obligatory reference to the London riots, even Jimmy McGhie’s passing remark about what happens when all the artists leave London had a bit more about it than just box ticking. His ear for accent and imitation is impressive and lead to an examination of masculinity, sex talk and middle class timidity in the sack. An inability to talk dirty is now an old chestnut for comedians, and all the more surprising because they don’t seem to have any problem with explicit descriptions of acts and orifices in front of a crowd, but genuine intimacy obviously makes them seize up.

Describing his need to adopt a Rude Bwoy voice, or a Welsh accent as disinhibitors with various girlfriends allowed him to show different, sleazy facets of his genuinely nice boy persona. It was all about the transaction, rather than simply the action, dropping the appearance of being middle-class and well-brought-up allowed a more sexually aggressive Alpha Male to get his end away. From the audience, which was more weighted to towards women, there was some genuine flinching and discomfort that he was dropping the C-bomb early on in the piece, but they readily forgave him.

From sex talk and baby talk in the bedroom, he moved to the art of non verbal communication, important in keeping your end up in a conversation where you would be out of depth if called upon to verbalise an opinion. This in itself is amusing, if a wee bit overworked, but it raised interesting questions of how we all present ourselves, the fear of being thought ignorant and the strategies and opportunities we use to disguise that. He balanced absorbing and challenging notions about intelligence and the need to be seen to have the ‘right’ knowledge and terms of reference, with genuinely hilarious and sometimes touching examples of his own vulnerability.

He’s got a deceptively light touch and his relaxed, well-mannered presentation allows him to topple the audience into constant laughter and smiles, without hectoring or being wearyingly high energy. Grown-up, insightful comedy that isn’t dependent on shock value and still had me thinking about issues he’d raised hours after the show. Excellent.

Review date: 22 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain

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