Jon Courtenay: Against The Odds | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Jon Courtenay: Against The Odds

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Jon Courtenay arrives at the Fringe by way of Britain’s Got Talent, which he won in 2020. His Edinburgh debut spends a decent amount of time basking in those glories and attempting to conjure some of the spectre of that shiny floor and those white teeth. But it also reveals another side of that experience, as he was diagnosed with skin cancer soon after embarking on it. 

He even managed to conceal his condition from the showrunners and the public, at one point wearing a Santa hat on stage to cover the gnarly scar from a recent operation.

Inevitably, given the BGT connection, this happily middle-aged father of two projects a broad appeal, probably broader than can easily find an audience at a Fringe festival. 

He gives off gentle, warm porridge, Radio 4 vibes, an impression enhanced by the amusing Cowardesque songs that form the bulk of the hour and his decision to make the entire show – both sung and spoken bits – rhyme. 

In stand-up, songs are sometimes described as removing the jeopardy, relieving the audience of the burden of reacting until the song’s over. Courtenay’s rhyming has a similar, more intense effect, allowing him to glide through the whole show without pretending it’s a two-way interaction. When the gentle patters of laughter do occasionally come, they almost disrupt his rhythm.

His audience are muted, but seem not to mind a bit of the old-fashioned dad humour and are carried along by the light pathos he brings when talking about his illness. 

You can’t be averse to a bit of sentiment in this room: his unironic (and literal) salute to Captain Tom is one of many peaks of earnestness in a show that sees him remind us that family is important, Christmas is about kindness, and that Britain should keep calm and carry on. 

Elsewhere, just like (again) a dad, his attempts to spice things up ring a little discordant: he’s a little creepy singing about Amanda Holden’s see-through dress or implying he’s slept with a member of Steps. 

This is one for the BGT die-hards only.

Jon Courtenay: Against The Odds is on at Gilded Balloon at the Museum at 6.30pm

Review date: 13 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon at the Museum

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