Sunday, October 2

Matt Forde: Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right – Pleasance Courtyard

This is NOT what The Fringe is about. This was neither odd, unpredictable, nor strange or thought-provoking. This was bold, polished, glossy, mainstream entertainment featuring an already established star. Big venue, big star, big prices, this was not the ‘fringe’ of anything. If you want to talk haircuts this was the City Worker’s £120 bespoke side-parting or the Sunday League Footballer’s Peaky Blinder. If Mullets were still a thing it would’ve made more sense because Matt’s clearly a Viz fan. Thank heavens for the Laughing Horse and PBH’s Free Fringe et al for it’s via these channels that all the whacky, shambolic, disturbing, unsettling, inspiring delights still slip through, it’s where the fascination associated with the Fringe can still be found in 2022.

Polemic over. Matt Forde is very good, he’s excellent, he’s what the words ‘consummate’ and ‘performer’ were invented for and had the audience nodding along from the start. Thing is, we already know the modern political parties and their personalities are a shambles, it’s not a revelation! In the present climate you were desperate for something stronger. The most radical moment occurred when he contemplated whether the person with the crying baby ought to be asked to leave. Safe to say most of the audience were ready to go along with that too, but as anyone who has kids knows, sh*t happens/babysitters fall through and at £16 a ticket, what would you do? Anyway, England – especially internationally – is a basket case and Scotland (with Tram and Ferry-related financial scandals) not much better when one scratches beneath the surface of the independence notion, but this was all easy-going incredulity, a night in the pub with a funny, straight-talking, common-sense chap. And we all know what that led to in 2016. He made a very strong point about this not being a ‘cost-of-living’ or ‘energy’ crisis, but one fourteen years in the making as a result of stagnant levels of pay (for most). But then he moved on…

The impressions were hilarious but worryingly Tony Blair almost segued into Boris Johnson… and at other points, shut your eyes and you’d have been forgiven for thinking this was an episode of Alan Partridge. It’s not Matt’s fault his show was labelled as part of the ‘Fringe’, he’s a 4/5-star player but the content was 2-star, an opportunity missed to jolt the well-heeled audience into actually thinking about something on the way out.

Running until August 28th (12.40pm) at The Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Beyond). Tickets

Reviewer: Roger Jacobs

Reviewed: 15th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★