Phil Jerrod: Neanderthal | Review by Paul Fleckney
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Phil Jerrod: Neanderthal

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Paul Fleckney

You can see why Phil Jerrod was snapped up by the agents at comedy kingmakers Off The Kerb. From the second he steps on stage he radiates 'confident comic'. Bang: impact. There's a hint of the oddball to him, mainly on account of that beard, but lift it up and there's a comedian underneath with potentially mass appeal. In other words, a character, but not too much of a character.

Neanderthal is his much-anticipated debut show, but I was left a bit disappointed. It was interesting seeing him right before Joe Lycett elsewhere at the Pleasance. It's a slightly unfair comparison because Lycett has been going for a good five years longer than Jerrod, but what Lycett absolutely nails is precisely what I think Jerrod falls down on: naturalness. Whether I was finding Jerrod funny or not, the whole time I felt that both his persona and material were forced. I didn't believe them.

He rails against the modern world with its relentless targets, achieving, the people doing marathons and the soul-sucking mobile phones. He worries about our worrying. 'There must be more to life' seems to be the overall subtext, is this what our forefathers fought the war for?

This leads him to some slightly unoriginal terrain when it comes to how the middle class is defined and how phones are a modern scourge. He looks for angles though, and sometimes finds them – I liked the notion that ghosts are just adverts for the building they 'inhabit' (one of the strongest routines), and his pitting different generations against each other.

Some angles are presented as great epiphanies but don't really work: like that nothing difficult has been achieved while dressed as a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, or that our constant anxiety is down to having evolved two contradictory body parts: eager thumbs and lazy brains. It does however at lead to a lovely line about The Great British Bake Off.

He's eloquent with it, and he ramps up his exasperation, to maniacal levels when it comes to a point where a supermarket item doesn't bleep when scanned. But I didn't buy his persona of being a man on the edge, pouring his heart out. Some of the writing feels forced as well; he revels in long, sinuous lines, and has the fluency to deliver them, but many of them are over-written and leave you with a bit of a job on your hands processing them. Even his habit of dropping his mic hand down to his side seems like an affectation to me.

Jerrod is a new enough comic that these could be residual elements of comic training or advice he's received, which haven't yet settled down into something coherent. I hope it does as there is plenty of comic ability there, as demonstrated by an utterly sumptuous call-back towards the end, and a deft little demo of using Facebook that aside from all the railing he has under-used talent for subtlety. If he reminds me of anyone it's a raw Hal Cruttenden. As it stands, there was just a little too much of everything.

Review date: 11 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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