George Rigden: George-ous | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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George Rigden: George-ous

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

George Rigden is to pick-up artists what David Brent is to office management: an unselfaware man hiding a mountain of insecurity behind a paper-thin arrogance. 

He takes to the corner of his Portakabin (‘stage’ seems too fancy a word) with his guitar and wine-stained shirt and affixes the audience with an intimidating stare. In his mind, he’s the world’s sexiest man - and has the song to prove it.

His mission is to prime us in the art of seduction, even though he exudes the needy desperation of a divorced middle-aged dad. Put him in front of a woman and he’s like Alan Partridge in front of a commissioning editor, throwing everything at the problem except the right thing.

It’s a fine, wretched persona, with hints of Johnny Vegas’s sad-sack character too, which knocks the edge off his lechery. The love songs he sings are not in the abstract, but in the very personal, affixing his intense gaze on one woman in the front row. His aim over the hour is to prize her from her boyfriend, whom Rigden treats with bullying contempt.

Much of the success of the show rests on the couple he chooses. Tonight Rigden picked a pair just two months into a relationship, and she was a little too eager to succumb to the comedian’s creepy and graceless advances, while he made some ill-judged attempts to join in with the jokes that knocked these interactions slightly off their axis. That’s the risk you run with such substantial audience participation.

Securing the date is too straightforward an aim to sustain the full hour, and there’s definitely a mid-show lull, alleviated whenever Rigden picks up his guitar for another catchy number. There’s a respectable showing of decent gags over the hour, too.

However, his ultimate, melodramatic descent into alcohol-induced self-pity is just a bit too uncomfortable for comedy - even though the puncturing of the tense mood inevitably gets a laugh.

I’m also not quite sure what else Rigden can do with this persona, since intimidating seduction is his only raison d’être. But maybe he’ll never tire of insulting the audience.

Review date: 18 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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