Mat Ewins: Mr TikTok | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Mat Ewins: Mr TikTok

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

By rights, there ought to be a social media platform on which Mat Ewins is huge. His video sketches are visually distinctive, silly, short, surreal and hilarious – equivalent to Far Side cartoons for the digital age. But his ‘boast’ that he’s got barely 1,000 followers on TikTok turns out to be true – even if it’s just about the only thing in this inveterate prankster’s show that is. The algorithms favour content that fits a pattern – and Ewins is brilliantly unpredictable.

He churns out the skits, too, even though they are technically demanding, with gags hurtling at you faster than the most impatient doom scroll, all while maintaining impressive quality and invention. 

There’s sure to be something here to tickle every taste. Maybe it’s the Willy Wonka-style trip to the Heinz factory – baked beans being a running joke of the show – which managed to offend at least two major world religions. Or when he makes Love Island contestants look even more plastic than they are. Or a Two Ronnies sketch done as if created for TikTok. Or hidden pro-oil messages in Disney cartoons. Or the King stripped of any solemnity in his serious official duties. The list goes on and on and on…

Tech trickery also makes him his own heckler, with an ‘AI bot’ constantly popping up to interrupt with a smart-arse comment. Kudos to Kate Palmer on the tech desk for firing up the prerecorded lines at just the right moment while also providing a fake Twitter commentary on what’s going on in the room, adding yet another layer of jokes to this densely-packed hour. 

Cameras, green screens and a keyboard full of samples allow Ewins to fire up some real-time silliness. Even before the gig starts, you can log on to his personal wifi server to get an extra layer of gags. There are live sketches too, including a parody of Adam Kay’s medical memoirs and a troubling take on the Rorschach ink blot tests. 

It is an immensely dense hour, but as Ewins repeated comments, the momentum is off for tonight’s audience and strong responses to individual gags don’t culminate to build rolling laughs. Still, it gives him something to complain about, as he likes to place himself on the back foot, to be the scrappy underdog with a chaotic style to offset the slick tech.

A recurring complaint is how things aren’t going as well, career-wise, for the self-styled ‘cheekiest boy in Britain’ as he’d like. This is his 11th Edinburgh show doing increasingly elaborate (and increasingly funny) variations of the same thing… but to what end? I’d say providing a room full of people with uproarious laughs at the audacity of his stupidity is achievement enough.

And do remember to hit like and subscribe. He needs those TikTok followers.

Review date: 18 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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