Elliot Steel: Netflix 'n' Steel | Review by Paul Fleckney

Elliot Steel: Netflix 'n' Steel

Note: This review is from 2016

Review by Paul Fleckney

Elliot Steel gets it out the way early in his show so let's do the same: he's Mark Steel's 20-year-old son. Anyone expecting a student activist railing against the dismantling of the NHS and crushing of the unions, adjust your settings. Not only does Steel not go anywhere near Tory-bashing with his comedy, he is actively hostile to the current generation of lefties who he sees as po-faced petition-starters.

Steel is more interested in going to clubs, smoking weed and playing Fifa. He gets his excuses in early about his apparent lack of qualifications for doing an Edinburgh show, pointing out that he doesn’t have a broken heart, or mental health issues to talk about, nor does he know anything much about anything, he claims. But this is partly to his advantage – how many other comedians of his age are competent enough to do an hour of comedy? It means he stands out from the off.

This advantage isn’t especially rammed home, as the material never gets above average, but he has interesting routines on his generation of right-on campaigners. Safe spaces are just left-wing segregation, he says, and the constant cry of 'check your privilege' is counterproductive.

His sections on cyberbullying and fatphobia seemed unpleasant to me, and not just because I disagree that they don’t exist. If anything they made Steel sound like a trainee pub bore. His political engagement starts and ends with spouting off, though; he would've voted in the EU referendum, but it involved walking up a hill, so he didn't bother.

Fans of his father will be titillated by the references to Mark’s crappy post-divorce cooking, and there are tales of going clubbing in Croydon. The laddy veneer of his nightlife routines mask the more thoughtful content, whether it’s about racism or a battle of logic with a bouncer. Oddly, the opposite happened with a potentially juicy setup about the internet being a force for good, which is then wasted on a joke about a threesome.

For a comic so young Steel is notable mostly for his total assurance. It doesn't feel faked for the stage, it's not cocky, it's just robust and assertive – you could imagine him dealing with hecklers without any problem (and given how opinionated he is, he can expect a few confrontations). He has been doing standup since the age of 16, and even when he started he stood out in the same way. 

Review date: 20 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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