Elliot Steel: Love and Hate Speech | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Elliot Steel: Love and Hate Speech

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Elliot Steel uses dark comedy as his selling point, but it is his insightfulness and quick wit that makes his show shine. 

He knows how to tell a comedic story, stringing together amusing anecdotes on his life, such as being a nepo baby, his left-wing mother banning Monopoly, a Las Vegas stag do, and being the victim of a hate crime.

This may form an odd collection of disjointed jokes in someone else’s hands, but Steel expertly weaves together a story of growing up and turning hate to love through comedy. He takes inspiration from a dark joke his friend made after Steel’s stepfather took his own life - a gag that elicited the first laugh from Steel in a long time and gets an incredulous response from the audience.

His dramatic Las Vegas trip was full of felonies and outrageous jokes - weighing up the pros of weed dispensaries with the cons of school shootings - and a rather bizarre tale of sharing a room with a ‘coked-up Iraq war veteran’. 

But between the wild adventures, Steel slips in astute and witty comments, noting how patriotism is a tool to uplift the military, before quickly brushing over his intelligent statement to return to crude jokes. This is what takes Steel’s comedy to the next level – sandwiching his social commentary between pacy stand-up. 

A monologue about how the argument over gender-neutral toilets is merely a smokescreen for real political issues was particularly well-executed, followed quickly by more of his darkly hilarious comedy. 

Being in his mid-20s, Steel admits, involves a lot more existential dread than anticipated - especially when acknowledging that there is a generation below him. But at least it comes with great material. His outrage at his ageing is palpable and amusing, as he suffered the ignominy of having to google an insult from a teenager. 

Steel offers a balanced view of the modern world, acknowledging that the older generation never had the ‘therapy language’ that exists today. He freely admits that one day he may be the old man who says the wrong thing by mistake, setting the audience into uproarious laughter with his suggestions for what words may be ‘cancelled’ in the next ten years. 

It’s a refreshing take on offence in comedy, sensitively allowing the space for people to feel their emotions while also throwing in punchlines at the perfect time. 

He ends with an explicit story about internal bleeding in his testicles after a martial arts injury, which took up a larger portion of the show than necessary, but had the audience in fits of laughter and groans. 

By the finale, he has reverted largely back to dark and vulgar comedy, leaving the quick wit and intelligence behind – though he did give fair warning that it was coming.

Review date: 22 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Kashmini Shah
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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