Friday, 29 August 2008

Fringe Review - Jim Jeffries: Hammered, Udderbelly, 25/08/2008

It's been a bad year, Jim Jeffries tells us at the top of his show. But then, he said the same last year. And the year before. Lets face it, when you're Jim Jeffries, it's pretty much been a shit life. No wonder he feels the need to let off steam. It seems like God doesn't like Jeffries much, but that's okay because the feeling is mutual. In fact the only deity he does have time for is Buddha, and that's just because he looks like he might be a bit of a party animal.

Jeffries is an offensive comedian. It says so, right there on his posters, so if you are the type who takes offense easily, you're pretty much an idiot if you still turn up at one of his shows. But Jeffries is also a very clever comedian, much as his perpetually drunk and stupid stage persona would suggest otherwise. He knows that the way to get away with being offensive, is to make the offense itself the object of the humour. So, for instance, rather than say "aren't retards funny," his take is, "isn't it ridiculous that we laugh at retards?"

It's an approach he uses time and time again during his show. Racists are evil and bastards, but you'd still shag one if she was hot. Dwarves are an unfairly oppressed minority, but we still think nothing of putting them in films. Sharon and Kelly Osborne are morons... no, actually there are no mitigating circumstances needed for that one. But it is this subversion of the form that sets him apart from the likes of Bernard Manning or Jim Davidson. Their jokes are simply cruel, and their only excuse is "it's just a joke." In Jeffries case, although he may be tackling the same subjects, the butt of the joke in the end is always himself.

An hour with Jeffries is an hour being indoctrinated into his particularly warped world view, and a very persuasive hour it is, as his views contain an internal logic that it is actually very hard to argue with. But cleverly he always extends the logic just that one twist too far, allowing us to see it in the end for what it really is.

He is, without doubt, an acquired taste, and it goes without saying that there are plenty out there who will have no wish to acquire it. The signs are there right from the start, the audience taking their seats while an introductory film shows butterflies and bunnies frolicking in a rainbow-filled wonderland to the joyful strains of The Carpenters, transforming into black spiders, bleeding hearts and heavy rock guitars as he prepares to enter the stage.

I'm not sure this show had the same impact as in previous years. He seemed a bit more rambling, even by his own rambling standards, and things never seemed to come to any particular point. But as a masterclass in barroom philosophising, and for some relatively guilt-free guilty pleasures, you can't go far wrong with Jeffries.

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