Simon Brodkin: Xavier | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Simon Brodkin: Xavier

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Simon Brodkin means different things to different people. To many, he’s the outrageous prankster who punches up with stunts such as handing Theresa May her P45 at the Tory party conference or showering then Fifa president Sepp Blatter with money.

To others, he’s closely allied with one of his comedy characters, ‘chav’ Lee Nelson or vapid, swaggering footballer Jason Bent. But in recent years, he’s dedicated his live shows to revealing more of his true self, whether that’s discussing his ADHD diagnosis or discoveries about his heritage.

Ironically, though, in taking a step back from those overt (and at times visibly uncomfortable) efforts to ‘be himself’ on stage this year to focusing instead on external topics, Brodkin is allowing more gentle aspects of his personality to shine through, as he did very early in his career. And it really works. While retaining that vital cheekiness, he appears to be more comfortable with himself, which brings deserved clarity to his craft.

He’s still punching up, for the most part (one exception is taking the piss out of northerners, which he pulls back with some sincere praise), with targets including police, the royal family, greedy corporations, politicians and religious rules based on irrational hatreds.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the aforementioned targets are low-hanging fruit for a satirist, but he pushes things into more complicated territories, as evidenced in a clever and vivid routine about the ecosystem of paedophile hunters. And fellow parents will strongly relate to brave quips about his children.

At the heart of Xavier, Brodkin is asking where all the good people have gone. In posing this rhetorical question he reveals aspects of himself that disappoint him, and underlines his gratitude for an important person in his life.  But it’s handled with such elegance and brevity that you almost don’t notice that just how much he’s revealing of himself.

It’s refreshing, intelligent and funny, with a twist of optimism.

Review date: 9 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Ashley Davies
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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