I, Tom Mayhew | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jack Boyles
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I, Tom Mayhew

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jack Boyles

As you may or may not know, I’m writing these very words because I won a Chortle bursary to help working-class critical voices become better represented in comedy – an opportunity I will be eternally grateful for. Because good things don’t really happen to working-class people, and when they do we feel like we have cheated, are not worthy or in my case, a charlatan. 

But it’s not only critical voices that are not being conveyed; there are few working-class comedians, too. And given the cost of being at the Fringe, it’s no surprise: the festival is inclusive, but for only those who can afford it. 

So, it’s an absolute pleasure to hear the working-class voice of Tom Mayhew, whose show is an honest portrayal of a life signing on, a tale of how the benefits system is corrupt, and an exploration of the stigma surrounding our socio-economical group. He evokes the struggles and hardships people go through simply because they are not born into wealth nor given the opportunity to blossom. 

Mayhew’s first-hand knowledge of the subjects enlightens many audience members into how policies and systems are perverted and recalcitrant. And people listen because of his delightful charm and the sincerity in his delivery. He is creating crisp jokes about working-class society, not glib ‘Rola Cola’ stuff.

Like all the best set-up/punchline comedians, Mayhew makes jokes about the matters he wants to talk about, rather than choosing the subjects to fit the jokes. It’s a highly polished act that has laughter and applause reverberating around the room.

He ends on a monologue that drives all his points home. It’s a speech with more meaning and power for working-class people than any Wonderwall, God Save The Queen or Tubthumping song will ever do; a soliloquy of our lives.

I, Tom Mayhew offers authentic material we can relate too: funny, sharp, intelligent, meaningful and pleasing. Mayhew is a voice that needs to be heard.

Review date: 9 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Jack Boyles
Reviewed at: Just the Tonic at The Mash House

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