Lew Fitz: Soft Lad | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Lew Fitz: Soft Lad

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Shy, unassuming and slightly awkward, Lew Fitz barely seems to be performing at all in his intimate Fringe debut. He treats the audience like friends, fussing over their comfort in the Gilded Balloon Turret sweatbox and affectionately calling them ‘silly gooses’ before he tells his life story.

At its heart, Soft Lad is about escaping the dearth of hope and expectation of his working-class childhood in Moss Side. Few there had any ambition to leave, but Fitz did – even if, when he found himself in a middle-class London soiree years later, he was so crushed by feeling out of place he had a full-on panic attack.

In his low-key, engaging way, Fitz got out of Manchester in the most unexpected way: lacrosse. It was introduced to his comprehensive thanks to a scheme to widen the sport’s appeal beyond its posh base – and he turned out to be good enough at it to win a sports scholarship to an American university, and he remained in the US for several years afterwards.

His story’s gently interesting, not least because of that angle of escaping destiny, without having any ‘wow’ moments. Nor are there many zingers of gags – although there are a decent showing of neatly amusing lines, a few of which he fumbles by being just too casual. 

What shines through, though, is his understated charm that lulls you into his world, and some evocative descriptions of it. The pensioners gathering at the meat van behind the supermarket is a specially vivid one.

A video of him aged five, throwing a strop when his commands for a family singalong are challenged, adds to his winsomeness. But he puts too high a hope on getting comedy out of the nursery rhyme in the clip. Piggy On The Railroad has such obviously unsettling imagery, there’s not much added value in deconstructing it.

More vulnerability comes from him sharing news of his corneal condition keratoconus, which gives him a slightly wild-eyed look and which is likely to have serious health consequences in the future.

Talking about this fits in with the generally contemplative nature of Soft Lad, which winds up in a conclusion more wistful than punchy, yet still offering plenty of food for thought at the end of a charming, understated hour.

Lew Fitz: Soft Lad is at Gilded Ballon Teviot at 7pm

Review date: 11 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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