Emmanuel Sonubi: Curriculum Vitae | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Emmanuel Sonubi: Curriculum Vitae

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Emmanuel Sonubi has not messed with the winning formula that earned him a best newcomer nod last year – and sure enough, he was elevated to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards’ best show shortlist with this follow-up.

Given the title, it’s no surprise that Curriculum Vitae runs through the main strands of his life, from gym-loving bouncer to the surprising love of musical theatre and some of his experiences as a father, all familiar from 2022.

Some of the funnier routines come from hearing this confident, well-built bloke recalling the times a dick of himself, such as rocking up for a corporate gig for London’s Magic Circle without realising it wasn’t the organisation for conjurors. 

Likewise, the phrase ‘banging gym’ is misheard and ‘wet you up’ misquoted, giving both newly sexual overtones. Even Sonubi’s nine-year-old son is besting him now, at least when it comes to punctuation. ‘Children ruin everything,’ the comic laments, though there’s no real disillusionment about how his life has turned out. Ultimately, Sonubi has such poise and authority he’s never truly the butt of his anecdotes, even when the intention is self-effacing. 

Initially, he effects a camp faux modesty when talking about his achievements so as not to appear so boastful. ‘Oh, shut up, stop talking about it,’ he demurs as he tousles his imaginary mane of hair. It’s an exaggerated gesture worthy of his background in musical theatre, which he credits with teaching him to parlay the assertiveness he could project as a well-built bouncer into stage confidence.

Certainly, few comics are as in such charismatic command of the room as he is. And offstage, the serious demeanour and imposing physique allow him to mess with people unsure of his intentions. He certainly likes making a normal situation awkward, as he shares here.

Working as a doorman gave him a deep well of material from watching drunk people, which he has plundered again. He also previously had an IT job in network compliance, whatever that is, from which he launches a deliberation on corporate life, such as treating job interviews as auditions, contrasting CV lies to real life, and wishing for The Purge to be real so he could spend one day wreaking his bloody revenge on coworkers who wronged him.

A few moments are a little hack – the question on US immigration forms about being a Nazi or a terrorist, especially, has been the subject of eyebrow-raising ridicule for decades. And if you’re hoping the show will step up a gear from relaxed storytelling, you’ll have a long wait ahead.

Sonubi ends by indulging his love of karaoke, grabbing his guitar to sing Just A Humble Man as he lists his many achievements, emphasising the false-modesty that has hallmarked the show. He’s right to be smug as he’s a comic of such presence, he could be saying anything and have us rapt.

Review date: 29 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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