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Josh WIddicombe: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Alex Mason

Josh Widdicombe is a strange performer, he has that outsider look of a lot of comics though but doesn't play on his own life failings, instead sticking to observational comedy in its purest form. He grips the mic close to him, like he wants to get things of his chest not just mentally but physically too.

His style is a British take on Seinfeld meets Louis CK, with sharp observations about everyday life, but each each reduced to absurdity with the curmudgeonly feel of Jack Dee. The performance is salesman-slick and the laughs just keep on building, with the initial punchline rarely being the best.

The jokes are so well crafted and delivered they don't feel like jokes, as the situations unravel and the comparisons come flooding in it's more like Widdicombe is an enemy combatant trying to keep his cool under the flood of hilarity. His way with similies would make a slam poet blush, taking choice aspects of mundane British culture and incorporating them into his lines like a comedic Tinie Tempah.

It's all low-key rants at all aspects of everyday life, and Widdicombe is annoyed by just about everything. From cash points to cereal to toilet seats, his irritation shows throughout due to his superb ability to play it straight and remain in the stories - he makes it look easy. Callbacks are used sparingly but to devastating effect with internal consistency maintained beautifully throughout the performance.

No jokes overstep the mark, with each perfectly timed and each new punchline obscured from view until the last possible moment. Everything follows on seamlessly, in a beautiful progression from chuckles to belly laughs at the painted imagery of minutiae gone wrong.

Despite the delivery being impeccable and the constant waves of laughter throughout the performance, an hour is a bit much and the annoyance comes close to appearing artificial. The character appears a little two dimensional, with the talent exceeding the constraints imposed. With this level this level of joke writing ability you can't help but feel maybe the persona needs more depth.

Widdicombe has found the sacred balance of context and relatability that Michael McIntyre so famously wields, only it feels more intimate and real here. One can only hope he can maintain this in the long run.

Review date: 24 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Alex Mason
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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