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Gareth Morinan is Playing the Numbers Game

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Jay Richardson

Gareth Morinan has caused a bit of a stir this Fringe, thanks to the stunt which saw him list his 22-date run as 11 separate two-day shows in the festival programme. Prompting another member of the Edinburgh Fringe Society’s participants’ panel to quit in protest, he recounts the incident near the top of his show, playing down the controversy at great length and absolutely not trying to get the hashtag #listingsgate trending on Twitter.

By not taking out an advert in the brochure, he's calculated that he's made a ‘loophole saving’ of £3,250. And he's currently reinvesting that in attempting to bribe people into voting him into even more exalted office, albeit with considerably less success. Nevertheless, the justification for his original gambit is a totally packed room.

Threading his stand-up through a projected display of animations and graphs, with a further role-playing aspect, Morinan's comedy is exceptionally deconstructive and reflects the point-and-click pace of the internet age.

In his dizzying hour, if a gag fails to come off, or even when it does, he simply taps his laptop and a quirky cartoon wrests the attention back. Over time, throwaway visual treats like Ed Milliband's face beaming from household objects give way to satirical, evidence-supported swipes at the likes of Bono. As with his dastardly publicity wheeze, life is a numbers game Morinan maintains, and he who comprehends and controls the maths will be king.

No one would have predicted Venn diagrams becoming so commonplace for a certain type of geeky stand-up. But Morinan's postmodern examples, alongside countless pie charts, truly are the last word on the phenomenon. A damning assessment of Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt's resumés suggest you can manipulate any data if you have the will. But otherwise, all this computer-assisted humour seems rather frivolous and inconsequential.

Between sections of his presentation, Morinan invites audience members up to recreate his recent dates, informed by lessons he's supposedly learned from Neil Strauss' pick-up bible The Game. Another familiar inspiration for a certain kind of male comic, the 2005 tome has arguably been superseded only by Fifty Shades of Grey for the abundance of raw material it provides.

In these awkwardly acted set-pieces, it becomes difficult to discern how far Morinan is mocking his own seduction technique, the book itself, or a society that nevertheless plays by its rules. Having previously had a crack at fellow comic Chris Ramsey though, for a perceived dig at little people, what slowly emerges through the fog of data and terrible acting is evidence of heightism, irrefutable prejudice against those of diminutive stature like Morinan.

All the bells and whistles keep his show lively but its a stop-start, distracting lecture with rather too much assaulting the senses in any two-minute period. Once he discovers how to streamline his wit and not be constantly browbeating the audience, cramming gags into every available second, Morinan ought to be a unique force to be reckoned with. Count on it, in fact.

Review date: 18 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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