Ali Brice: Bin Wondering | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Bill Murray, London
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Ali Brice: Bin Wondering

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Bill Murray, London

This is the story of the several hours Ali Brice spent in a wheelie bin. And that scenario, ridiculous as it seems, is actually the serious, heartfelt, personal meat between two slices of stupidity in this sandwich of absurdity. 

He takes to the stage dressed as a giant crocodile, who’s also a Geordie – partly because surrealism always sounds good in a North-East accent, and partly for the sake of one wilfully contrived visual gag based on an outdated cultural reference. 

That’s typical of the ‘dad-joke’ style that underpins the dafter material, with Brice willing to do anything for a laugh, however uncool. Cheesy lines are sold with slightly forced good cheer, alongside more skilful examples of the wordplay that’s his forte. More than once are laughs and groans combined.

At this performance in London’s Bill Murray venue, filmed for the NextUp platform, Brice initially seems a little self-conscious and unsettled, forever fiddling with his costume’s head and directing material off to one side. He’s frequently asking questions of the audience, too, sometimes near-impossible ones in the hope of riffing of their confused answers. However, the stop-start nature of these interactions affects the momentum as only some pay off.

But his persistence, endearing manner and inherent, if slightly repressed, sense of jolly stupidity win through – only to be strengthened when he sheds the uncomfortable outfit to appear as his modest self to tell the unlikely story of how he wound up in that bin.

The show here is more honest, not least in its exploration of how he started drifting through life, with drinking proving an expensive and destructive way of filling the void. The bin is a metaphor, you see. As well as being an actual bin.

Even while being sincere, Brice is never far from playing the goose – and the jokes keep coming from all directions, along with amusing vignettes around the periphery of the story. Rifling through the contents of the bin allowed extra visual gags, providing a couple of the best punchlines of the night in a stand-out section that could surely have gone on for longer.

Once this tale is told, and redemption achieved, Brice returns to a character, the German Dr Jellywoz, getting laughs with his wandering accent, more daft props, and another playful bit of unthreatening audience interaction. He throws himself into this more wholeheartedly than he did with ‘Ali Crocodile’, and this – combined with the fact we now know him all the better – takes us out on a high.

By segmenting the show, Brice manages be both earnest and preposterous without one tone overwhelming the other – even if it comes at some cost to the coherence of the hour as a whole. But the vulnerability of the central section plus the roll-your-eyes silliness of the others only enhance his likability, which is ultimately what binds the many fragments.

Review date: 11 Nov 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: The Bill Murray

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