Friday, 1 August 2008

Fringe Preview - Nick Revell: Sleepless, Wee Room at the Gilded Baloon Teviot, 01/08/2008

Although he emerged as one of the alternative comedy crowd of the early eighties, doing his apprenticeship at the Comedy Store and on Friday Night Live, Nick Revell was never really an angry young man of comedy, more his thoughtful intellectual cousin. And now, quarter of a century later, it is that thoughtfulness which keeps him from being just another of the grumpy old men generation. He may be grumpy, but his concerns, for the most part, are by no means trite.

It was quite a surprise to me to see this elder statesman of the alternative scene in such a small room at such an early hour. But maybe today's audiences don't know their history so well, because while the comedy literate will be well aware of the huge influence he has had on British comedy, he has never been much of a one for pushing himself into the public eye, content to make his home in Radio 4 satire rather than BBC2 panel shows.

Revell begins by explaining the title, saying that the theme of the show is things that keep him awake at night. But like so many Fringe shows, it's a theme he almost entirely forgets about from the moment the words leave his lips. Apart from the occasional mention along the way, what the theme really is, is simply things that bug him. And we're not talking things like loud music or not getting a seat on the bus, Revell's concerns are of a serious bent, world politics, global warming and why the world seems to care more about the cult of celebrity than genocide in Darfur.

These are tricky subjects to tackle, but Revell does so with eloquence and intelligence, and while very little of his set is bust-a-gut funny, nonetheless he never loses your attention. And that attention is adequately rewarded by the few occasions when he does let loose with a killer punchline.

So perhaps the early evening slot is a blessing after all. This is comedy that should not be viewed through the bleary eyes of excessive alcohol consumption, even thought that too is a topic covered along the way. This is smart and clever and you'll want your wits about you to appreciate it properly. So perhaps not a show to go to if you just want a bunch of giggles with your mates. But for the more discerning viewer, a thoroughly enjoyable experience nonetheless.

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