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Seymour Mace: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

One of the formats that’s attracted the most buzz in Edinburgh over the past couple of years is Set List, the improvised stand-up game where solitary comedians must ad lib their routine based only on odd subject headings they have never seen before.

It’s a real challenge that can leave even the best comics floundering… but Seymour Mace is performing more than half an hour of the same thing every day this Fringe. Where’s his Sky Atlantic contact?

The show is called  Squeg because, like many festival performers, he was unprepared when the programme deadline came around so plumped for something meaningless. Like fewer festival performers, he’s still unprepared midway through the festival, so asks his audience to write down odd questions and ideas, around which he riffs.

It might be lazy, but when it results in the free-flowing hilarity it did this lunchtime, that’s of no importance. Today that journey takes us to a Joy Division/Russ Abbot mashup, racism as applied to Gummi Bears and a recurring idea that we will all one day surrender ourselves to robots, which was set up in the prepared preamble but taken in new directions once the adlibbing starts.

The topics, though, are irrelevant. What counts is Mace’s apparently effortless ability to make them all stupidly funny. He sets up a great rapport with the audience – the unamplified performance, lit by sunlight demolishing any artificial boundary between him and us – and he recreates the atmosphere of being the funny mate having a laugh.

That’s important, because Mace confesses to suffering clinical depression. He tackled it in last year’s show but – surprise! – doing an Edinburgh run isn’t the panacea for deep-set mental health issues you might think. The joy has been sucked from comedy for him by having to be funny professionally, rather than just down the pub. This is his successful attempt to go back to that simpler approach.

Art seems something of a therapeutic release, too, and he shows us some of his surreal single-framers that would do The Far Side’s Gary Larsson proud.

But rather than dwell on his reality – after all, how many shows about depression can one man do? – Mace harnesses his instincts to just arse about for our entertainment. Job done.

Review date: 16 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 2

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