André de Freitas: What If | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

André de Freitas: What If

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

André De Freitas has sacrificed a lot for comedy. His debut describes the tough situations he has put himself through since leaving his Portuguese home at 18 to make it as a stand-up in the States.

With no understanding of what that would require, he wound up broke and sleeping in a car, starting a cycle of homelessness he’s found hard to break. In the UK he slept in a grim hostel, then under the stairs in the dead-end commission-only job he worked. To try to make ends meet, he even signed up to be a male escort – though he’s reticent about revealing whether he got any work.

This would be enough to break many people, but the affable De Freitas remained resolute, maintaining an optimism that all would work out if he stuck to it. And this rootless existence has undoubtedly provided him with a fair few stories to share.

Given everything he’s put into getting to the Fringe, it’s tough to report that this doesn’t feel like a breakthrough show. For while his life has been hard, many of his punchlines are soft.

The first third or more is pretty unexciting as he defines his whole personality as 'Portuguese'. Jokes about no one knowing much about his homeland fit into clichés about other nations, very much in the vein of his comedy hero Russell Peters. Other safe material includes stories of taking drugs in Amsterdam and telling us how much he supposedly looks like a lesbian.

 He tries to start some crowd work, but no one’s really biting and it feels frustrating. 

Because of the widespread ignorance about Portugal, he can make much talking about  the pride in their cork exports, or explaining the national trait of having a melancholy, or ‘saudade’ as they put it, more romantic than the brutal sadness of Eastern Europe. These gags land only lightly, even given the large number of Portuguese people in his audience – perhaps it’s because it’s hard to mock clichés you’ve only just learned about.

De Freitas is on firmer territory when speaking about his dying grandmother and schizophrenic uncle, making these routines funny though authenticity and wit, never feeling maudlin or exploitative. 

Then, after letting the audience vicariously experience his struggles in getting into comedy, the anticipated payoff about how, if you follow your dreams, you too can make it. De Freitas is now a reasonably successful comic back home, opening for all the international touring acts. Though of course the sample is biased - the guy following his dreams and still sleeping in a stairwell and doing sex work isn’t doing a Pleasance Courtyard comedy show.

Now De Freitas has got the introductions out of the way with his debut, it’ll be interesting to see where he goes next, either leaning into the storytelling for which he has a knack, or sticking to the bland mainstream route, which may work well as an arena opening act, but feels too flighty for the Fringe.

Review date: 26 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.