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Seymour Mace: Happypotamus

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Seymour Mace has a reputation for daft, silly comedy – so you may well go into a show entitled Happypotamus expecting more of the same. However, as he admits at the start, this is an hour about depression – but he thought mentioning that might dent his box office.

If the subject matter comes as something of a surprise, fear not, for Mace knows how to make a breakdown funny. There is comedy there, as anyone who’s ever seen Basil Fawlty thrash his car with a branch will know.

Mace had his Fawlty moment when he caught himself attacking a kitchen bin. It came after a long series of events, starting at last year’s Fringe when the pressure of several daily shows, the financial pressure and the oppressive atmosphere of his Caves venue all proved too much. And for comedy insiders, he doesn’t hold back on the people who did little to help his mental state – all part of the heartfelt honesty with which he delivers this style.

To clear his head, Mace moved to a notorious London house, to share with four ‘mentally dysfunctional’ comedians. Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out, and it was their garbage can he took it out on.

Basically, this is one big build-up to the oldest set-up in comedy: ‘So, I went to the doctor…’

Hereafter Mace’s fast-moving narrative takes us into the world of antidepressants, thoughts on the nature of happiness, how misery drives consumerism, whether the ‘colourful’ characters in his neighbourhood are really the content ones, and on whether bliss can be found through artistic endeavour, such as the poems and artwork he shares with us.

He let the light in both metaphorically and physically. This afternoon show is performed with the blinds open, in full natural light – and it goes against received wisdom by actually being more intimate, not to mention carbon neutral, for it.

The material is at once thoughtful, personal and hilarious. He’s seen the funny in his own problems, and mines it expertly – and whatever dark place he went to over the previous months, his sense of playful fun has most definitely returned now. What keeps him cheerful is the fact that he’s not afraid to act like a dick – and when he does that for our entertainment everyone’s a winner.

There are some great stand-up routines here. Mace can make funny out of the way he uses the sponge-scourer to do the washing-up, while his diatribe against The Apprentice shows a rare acerbic side. The surreal drawings he shows us are brilliantly weird – though they might not exactly help prove he’s now of sound mind.

There are a few lulls now and again, but that only gives you a chance to regroup for the next moment of brilliance. And the finale is as silly and an uplifting couple of minutes as you could hope to have. In short, it will make you happy.

Review date: 27 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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