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Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.
Jem Brookes - Pintification
[Reviewed at Brighton Fringe 2011]
Jem Brookes reminisces for 50 minutes.
The performer says that he was from Northampton and a vet; he's a well-built friendly-looking man with his head shaved and a tall glass of beer beside him; and light trousers. He explains that his hair used to be ginger, and that his skin is fair; that he studied in Edinburgh and had treatment for depression including the drug Prozac; has some family in Bolton, and had an accident in the exhibition of the (long-running UK television soap about working-class life in the North of Britain, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_Street) Coronation Street. The accident sounds extremely painful, and he produces evidence from his pocket.
His recollections include difficulties with his sense of balance, a rugby tour to Belgium involving drinking, animal noises and associated anecdotes; his life in Ruislip (a London suburb); a night in a cardboard box at the back of a nightclub in London's Tottenham Court Road; some unusual social lies which he has told without being sure why he told them; the confessional nature of stand-up comedy; and his part in an elaborately-set-up tabloid picture magazine story in the late 1990s.
The performer mentions the likeness of his show to a chat in a pub. Unfortunately, while the stories could work well with friends, they don't translate effectively to a performance. He comes across as a likeable personality, but the material doesn't feel at all interesting. The experiences which fill the 50 minutes of this work-in-progress-towards-an-hour-for-Edinburgh-Fringe-2011 show are more the kind which could sound funny coming from a mate who's a bit of a lad told in a short conversation (from which the listener could escape), but as comedy they don't grip.
In a show there's a hope that the material is funny (this is not, sufficiently) or at least outrageous, or structured. This, generally, is not. There's no build-up, no layers; there are a few intrinsically funny components, but not many. Filling an hour is helped by writing of compelling material assembled to build to a laugh, and these elements are missing. Delivery is OK, but the speaking could be a lot leaner, particularly getting rid of sound-fillers such as 'to be honest with you' - that line occurs all the way through the show.
Honed down, slashed ruthlessly, with sharpened presentation and tighter wording there could be some funny material in today's show. The performer mentions having written for The News Huddlines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_News_Huddlines; a British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 2 programme) - a show which used lean, tight, topical, well-crafted, very funny writing (and which was performed to and recorded with a live audience). This show doesn't need to be topical, but applying the other elements could help. Plenty of new material - funny material - would be a boost. Moving away from the format of telling stories about the performer's own apparent life history could assist - autobiography can limit the scope. The performer comes across as warm and potentially funny, which is a start.
Cast Credits: Performer - Jem Brookes.
Company Credits: Writer - Jem Brookes. Director - uncredited. Lighting Designer - none. Sound Designer - none. Technical Operator - none. Producer - uncredited. Company - Laughing Horse. Website - www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk.
reviewed Thursday 19 May 2011 / The Quadrant, Brighton UK
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