Comedy DeLuxe review

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

The last regular Comedy DeLuxe before the venue is turned over to weekly Edinburgh previews from the likes of Stewart Lee, Tony Law and Richard Herring saw Mark Watson trying out new material, more honest than we’re used to seeing from him, with frequently brilliant results.

But it’s the newer acts we’re out to review, and last night these kicked off with Garrett Millerick, who instantly imposes a theatrical authority over the audience.

He has a confident, middle-class tone of voice, well-suited to indignation when reality doesn’t match his sense of entitlement, as his opening salvo against British Gas’s customer service standards unmistakably proved. There’s not much of a joke, but lots of haughty attitude.

Indeed, most of his life doesn’t live up to his expectations. ‘I’ve got nothing I’m proud of’ he proclaims as he huffs about the tribulations of being a ‘barely-employed’ comic in a flatshare with other petty men. He’s great at painting the picture of his dead-end life, and while there is more description than there are punchlines in his routines, he’s an engaging presence.

If Millerick is a little down on life, Adam Smith is borderline suicidal. There’s not a lot of joy in a set that evokes images of a girl dying in a house fire, just for the sake of a pun.

His dour, hangdog deadpan makes Jo Brand look like the perkiest chugger, and is most effective when it works in concert with material such as being suffocated by a long-term relationship that gives reason for him being so world-beaten. But most of his set revolves around anagrams and wordplay (as well as comments about his 18th-Century economist namesake), where the style can be a drain on the audience’s energy.

The quality is hit and miss, too, even sometimes in the same joke , where a predictable line about him having a ‘big gay following’ is followed with a much funnier tag. It averages out to a solid set, but not one you might go out of your way to seek out.

Former Chortle Student Award finalist Glenn Moore enjoys his language, too, and his routine fully exploits that. It’s very obviously written, rather than being concealed in the conversational conceit of most stand-up, even to the extent that he takes a book out to read his closing section, just to make sure every syllable is ‘just so’. He’s a man who doesn’t argue, but quarrels, since the word just sounds better. That’s the sort of precision he employs.

So while there’s not a huge amount of fluidly or natural warmth to his material, there are some great one-liners within it. His future may be more as a scribe than a performer, but it’s funny nonetheless.

Back to comedy born of depression for Richard Stainbank, overweight and under-employed, and grumbling about both facts. Not that he has much time for the rest of the world, either. Even Winston Churchill – in whose stately home he works as a volunteer - is overrated, in Stainbank’s aloof opinion.

Like Smith, he sometimes struggles to raise the laughs above the sullen ambience he generates, but there is also some impressively bleak writing here, as he eloquently vocalises his despair.

Finally, Jack Barry (pictured), who demonstrated an inventive flourish behind his likeable banter. He seeks out the unusual for the starting point of much of his sections, then tackles those topics from an obtuse angle. Then to vary the pace he might drop in a quick, smart turnaround on a shorter gag, or switch to something more surreal.

Eclectic in style and content - with subject matter including gang signs, cancer-sniffing dogs and unusual superpowers – he demonstrates over this short set a distinctive wit that should make him one to watch.

Review date: 15 May 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Smiths

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