Andrew O'Neill: Geburah | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
review star review star review star review star review blank star

Andrew O'Neill: Geburah

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Think of a countercultural tribe, and chances are Andrew O’Neill belongs to it as an non-binary vegan anarchist metalhead who practises ritualistic magick.

Yet their comedy shows – which combine the surrealism of Eddie Izzard, the post-vaudevillian silliness of Harry Hill and politics that make Mark Thomas look like the wimpiest centrist – are surprisingly accessible, often hilarious and ambitiously wide-reaching affairs that have no peers.

Geburah means strength in Hebrew, and in the mystic Jewish sect of Kabbalah it is interpreted as the sphere of war and destruction. O’Neill certainly wants to tear down the capitalist system – and, by-the-by, kill the King - but there’s no reason we can’t have a laugh about it too. 

The broken system of private property ownership is a through line, and in a moment of seriousness, the comic describes how Squatting became outlawed in the UK, championed by Russian-owned media for the benefit of Russian oligarchs buying empty London properties to launder their ill-gotten roubles.

Geburah also includes a routine about Edward Bernays, the father of PR, whose propaganda O’Neill believes helps advance the narrative of the industrial-military complex – or ‘Jackbootanory’ as they more succinctly put it. 

But this is but part of an hour of colossal scope that can use the word ‘epistemological’ in one moment – describing how dropping ‘like’ into a sentence gives wiggle-room to insulate the speaker from certainty – then jump to a lovely bit of anthropomorphic absurdism as the stand-up imagines what goes through the minds of belt loops. Is the political reality we are expected to believe really any more ridiculous than this nonsense?

Amid a shower of silly one-liners and daft non-sequiturs, there’s a running gag about the man with 20 bollocks, allowing O’Neill to drop in punchlines long divorced from the set-ups in a delightful deployment of the callback technique. And in the other direction, the comic foreshadows their material about regicide, and an unlikely anecdote about Richard Madeley’s penis, to build anticipation.

Oh, and there’s loads of material about the Netflix hit Is It Cake?, which feeds into the comic’s love of things not being what they seem. In tribute to Ian Cognito – or just a chance to nick his material – O’Neill rescues the late stand-up’s excellent catchphrase: ‘Some things I know, some things I’ll never know…’ to save it from dying with him.

You’ll know a bit more after an intense, unpredictable hour in O’Neill's company while savouring the showmanship and the silliness that makes their shows so special.

Review date: 29 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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.