Zach Zimmerman: Clean Comedy | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Zach Zimmerman: Clean Comedy

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

I’m not sure Zack Zimmerman’s ironic title has entirely worked for him in a festival where few people really read the full blurb. That virtually no one is looking for clean comedy at 10.45pm is proven by the rows of empty seats, and anyone seeking some wholesome stand-up will be sorely disappointed.

That includes the comedian’s mother, Patty, a devout Southern Baptist from Roanoke, Virginia. He’s rebelled and become a gay vegetarian atheist, and the tension that causes – even though Mom clearly still loves her son – is palpable in some of the recorded phone conversations he plays out.

While Clean Comedy has a surfeit of dirty stories, such as the time he made plastercast of his penis to present to a boyfriend or too-vivid descriptions of him watching videos of buttholes, there’s also an undercurrent about being true to himself, not what others expect from him. To this day he rues his decision to drop a reference to his sexuality from his graduation speech at his mum’s behest.

He’s a lively and personal guide to his life, from being an unlikely mascot for a school football team to the war stories from the New York dating scene. The show starts with a rat-a-tat-tat of quick jokes that establish him and his upbeat energy, before relaxing just a smidgeon to regale his dirty content. There’s a playfulness to this as he teases’ too much?’ when tweaking the line of good taste, but audiences will always indulge the honesty, charm and vulnerability beneath his outrageous sex tales.

Zimmerman’s well-polished performance skills come to the fore in a specially memorable act-out of how he blubbed like a seal after being dumped. But there are also a few points where the show lulls, even though it runs to just 50 minutes. And a routine stating that if he could eat his own ass, he wouldn’t be here is less artful than Bill Hick’s similar dick-sucking material.

Pathos is present, but not overdone, to add some gravity to what’s clearly a well-constructed show – with a killer closing scene that offers the perfect callback. Come for his vivacious personality; stay for a story with a bit of substance.

Review date: 25 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

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