Rich Fulcher: Tiny Acts Of Rebellion

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Rich Fulcher’s a strange and funny man who seems not quite of this world. He may have been sent to Earth to find the perfect comic vehicle for his peculiar talents – but like so many of his efforts, from Snuff Box to the lascivious groupie Eleanor – this intentional shambles is too inconsistent to be the answer.

In these times of Arab Spring rebellion and riots on England’s streets, this impudent American argues that the way to ‘stick it to the man, right up the bunghole’ is not with grand gestures, but minor and ridiculous acts of insurrection. He’s already collected these in an entertaining book, which was published last Christmas, but this is the lecture circuit version.

Not that either the spoof seminar, or the idea these are genuine childishly rebellious actions, clung to particularly strongly. Often the examples are just petty oneupmanship or suggestions about how to deal with daily irritants such as the office bore or unwanted cold-callers. But the more purely subversive the intent, the greater the comic payoff.

Sometimes his suggestions are wildly inventive, like deliberately mispronouncing everyday words; and sometimes a little flat – such as his ideas for engaging with an email spammer, which is already a depleted well of comedy. Likewise, acting out the examples is just as likely to enhance them as exhaust them, and there seems very little care to which of these two payoffs you get.

Much is made of the awkward and amateur nature of the seminar, but just how much of this lack of professionalism is fake is left deliberately unclear. You’re often given the impression he’s genuinely bumbling his way through his often laboured suggestions, until he clobbers you with a powerful right-hook of oddness.

The brutal non-sequitur is his best friend, and he frequently blurts out something that reveals a whole troubled back-story in one sharp, random outburst, rescuing a floundering scene.

In his efforts, Fulcher is ably assisted by his frequently scene-stealing sidekick, Arnab Chandra. At his best, Chandra offers some semblance of normality for Fulcher to rub up against, which heightens the underplayed absurdity, and therefore the laughs. Not that Tiny Acts Of Rebellion is as full-on weird as followers of Fulcher’s previous work might expect; the surrealism and the energy of the performance are more muted than almost everything he’s done before.

The audience (who tonight included his Mighty Boosh mentor Noel Fielding) also play willing co-conspirators in the mild sedition, again to mixed effect. But the crowdsourced letter of generic complaint proves a hit, as does the front-row punter selected to execute one of the tiny acts outside in the real world.

There’s an excellent show in here – or if not, most certainly in Fulcher himself – but it’s not fully teased out here, despite a healthy helping of bizarre highs. The quest for that perfect vehicle continues...

Review date: 17 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

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.