Thursday, 31 July 2008

Fringe Preview - Miles Jupp: Drifting, Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, 30/07/2008

Since winning So You Think You're Funny seven years ago, Miles Jupp has gone about having a quietly successful career combining stand-up with acting roles, most notably probably as Archie the Inventor in the BBC children's series Balamory.

Most of his stand-up career has been as a kind of character act, albeit the character being essentially himself, a "nice but dim" upper-middle class, slightly out of touch with the real world ditherer. His appearance, the unfashionable spectacles, wilfully unstylish wild curly hair, puppy-fat face and twenty years out of fashion clothing, has always added to and enhanced this persona, almost a shorthand for what was going to come.

So when he bounded onto the stage for this performance, looking fit and trim, contacts firmly in place, short-haired, trendy bearded and wearing well cut jeans and a casual shirt, it took a moment to realise that some random stranger hadn't just wandered into the wrong gig.

But that was a good thing, because it meant that Jupp had nothing to fall back on, no easy crutch, and had to rely on his own wit and personality only to carry the show. And for the most part, he did just that.

This is occasionally a hit and miss show. Jupp tells long rambling stories, some of which work superbly well, but others seem to fizzle out with nary a final punchline in sight. For instance, his tale of testicular trauma had the audience virtually rolling in the aisles, but the following story, involving a dead dog, just went nowhere and left you wondering what exactly the point he was trying to make had been. Later, on the other hand, he shows himself to be a man after my own heart with a lengthy rant on the state of the British railway system that is absolutely spot-on.

But with the main weapon in his arsenal, his easy public school charm, present and intact, he is an impossible act not to warm to, and as such an hour in his company passes comfortably. While it probably won't be the most laugh-out-loud show you will see all through the Fringe, it is definitely worth checking out if you want to be left with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

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