Simon Brodkin: 100% Simon Brodkin | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Simon Brodkin: 100% Simon Brodkin

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

He achieved some fame with his alter-ego Lee Nelson and even more notoriety for such stunts as handing Theresa May her P45 and showering FIFA’s Sepp Blatter with banknotes. But the actual Simon Brodkin has always remained hidden – until now. 

While Nelson was the archetypal chav in his polo shirt, baseball cap and cheap bling, Brodkin is from Hampstead Garden Suburb, went to a private all-boys’ school and is a qualified doctor.

Yet despite the class chasm, Brodkin’s first stand-up show as himself displays at least some of the same comic characteristics as his creation, certainly in the way almost every line is a set-up for a gag, and also in portraying himself as a lazy husband and ineffective, absent dad.

It’s a punchy, efficient style, heightened by the controlled power of Brodkin’s performance. The subject matter isn’t wildly ambitious, and even one or two of the gags you might have heard before, but he rattles them off at impressive pace.

Despite the billing as this being the ‘real’ Brodkin, he still keeps the audience at arm’s length for most of the hour, as he keeps the focus on delivering gags in a slick style redolent of American stand-up. 

He doesn’t get too personal in his tales of family life before moving on to the story of what happened after he was dragged away from Donald Trump following the prank on his Aberdeenshire golf course, and talking about his time working the wards at Trafford General Hospital, infused with the jet-black humour typical of so many medics.

The show slowly becomes more political. At first, it’s a pretty hack response to Michael Gove’s pre-referendum assertion that ‘we’ve had enough of experts’, followed by an exchange with a person from the future in which he vocalises this generation’s arrogant disregard for the environment, which is a little predictable too.

But moving into antisemitism reveals a more genuine concern for the moral direction of the world in which his two children must grow up. The notion of adding a serious topic to the home straight of an Edinburgh stand-up show is well-established now, but Nelson does it skillfully – and even if the gag rate slows a little, he doesn’t park the punchlines in favour of an overwrought message.

100% Simon Brodkin is, then, an assured comeback – or debut, if you prefer. Certainly, the appeal of the once-unstoppable Lee Nelson had long begun to wane, even after he got booted and suited. This show proves that Brodkin has no need for the trappings of character to deliver a thoroughly entertaining show.

Review date: 2 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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