Nick Hodder: Insert Comedy Here

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

As stand-up expands so rapidly, so has the number of comedians who choose the practices of their chosen profession as a legitimate target for mockery. After all, comedy itself is the prime obsession for most of its practitioners, who would be well aware of the age-old mantra ‘write what you know’.

So here we have Nick Hodder deriding cliched jokes, stand-ups who want to be E4 presenters and observational comics just ‘describing the obvious’. Yet he – as well as the comedy geeks his show is aimed at – must be well aware that jokes about stand-ups who want to be E4 presenters and observational comics just describing the obvious are pretty clichéd themselves these days. And that’s the inherent problem his debut show, Insert Comedy Here, struggles to overcome.

The premise – which is full of potential – is that Hodder can’t be arsed to craft his routine, so he’s gone on the internet and brought a ‘teach-yourself’ CD designed to make him instantly into a successful cookie-cutter comedian. There’s some half-joke that this is both a learning resource for the newbie, yet designed to be played just before taking to the O2 stage, which only adds a discrepancy to the set-up, which you have to overlook.

The dismembered voice explains how to glad-hand the audience, break the ice with a joke about who you look like, riff on the differences between men and women, drop in a pat bit of nostalgia or animal-based whimsy and so forth.

Aware that simply taking pot-shots at fellow comedians could easily come across as ungracious or arrogant, Hodder has smartly assumed the low-status persona of a nervous, awkward loser, unable to follow the broad instructions. He pulls this off well, making for a sympathetic character, and there are a few, if not enough, decent jokes amid all the deconstruction.

But his take on the lazy tropes of comedy isn’t nearly insightful or original enough, with the points he makes almost taken as given. Certainly most comedy reviewers would be expected go deeper their analysis, yet a comedian with supposed insider knowledge can’t.

The show is wrapped up with a rather trite cheesy conclusion that by-the-book is no way to do comedy, and it has to come from within – as if we couldn’t have figured that out for ourselves. Only problem is, this offering (still an work-in-progress for Edinburgh, although not billed as such) doesn’t seem to have come from within, and rather seems like a repeat of all-too common opinions, even if expressed with a few flourishes of decent writing.

Review date: 6 Feb 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester The Looking Glass

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