Christopher Bliss: Writing Wrongs | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney
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Christopher Bliss: Writing Wrongs

Note: This review is from 2017

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney

Rob Carter was knocking around in 2011-12 as a bright young comic who might make the grade. He won the Musical Comedy Awards and made the Chortle Student Comedy Award final, did a mediocre debut show then disappeared from view. He re-emerged a few years ago with his character Christopher Bliss – a bad writer of even worse books. 

This year Carter performs his second show as Bliss, and it really is a quality hour of comedy. Carter has dodged the obvious route of making Bliss a pompous, privileged posho. Yes, the character has an inflated opinion of his writing, but actually he’s a well-meaning idiot, slightly in the style of Alan Partridge, who’s also rather excitable. Carter definitely has something in Bliss – it’s such an original, solid, subtle character, and Carter has total command of him.

The bulk of the show is taken by up Bliss reading all five chapters of his book, called Get A Brain, (which is ‘published by Rymans’), about a bullied schoolboy. 

There are laughs at every turn of the page – his literal character names, his utter inability to wield subtext, the overblown prose (I loved his description of someone’s jaw dropping)… 

Carter sends up his target by knowing it inside out, doing for writing what Les Dawson used to do for piano music. He compares Moby-Dick to Harry Potter to show us the difference between bad writing and good writing, his main gripe with Herman Melville being that the opening sentence of Moby-Dick doesn’t thank the reader for reading it. 

The Communist Manifesto and his mum’s novel also get the Bliss treatment, and the longer the show goes on, the better it gets, which is surely a good sign.

Carter doesn’t just rely on the words on the page for the laughs, he shows himself to be a terrific performer, urging the audience to chip in, react and shout ‘ruddy hell’ at any particularly good bits. He pits the two sides of the room against each other, encouraging amusingly lame bullying from one side to the next (the show is, I think, completely swear-free). Carter is able to react on the hoof to what is happening without any slippage from his character, totally in control of himself and the room. This is how character comedy should be done.

The stand-out section involved Carter reading from a thesaurus. The phrase about someone being able to read the phone book and make it funny comes to mind, as this is hilarious, as he picks up on a plotline that’s obviously not there. 

There are many other twists and nice touches, and the show feels light and accessible to absolutely anyone. 

Carter has created a truly fantastic comic character in Christopher Bliss, and his second show in this guise is a laugh-out-loud page-turner. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this act broke into the mainstream.

Review date: 17 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney

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