Edinburgh Review: Alfie Brown

Alfie Brown

Pleasance Courtyard


Alfie Brown is certainly a busy little bee. Since his last Edinburgh show the beardy 27-year-old has split from his wife and done another major thing which, if I reveal it here, will simply piss off the kind of people who go through every comedy review with a fine toothcomb just so that they can scream “Spoiler!” into the void as loudly as possible.

So let’s keep this review of his new show, Divorced from Reality (and My Wife), reasonably vague and simply sing Brown’s praises. There is no doubt that he is maturing into one of the most interesting voices in comedy. Outspoken, candid and not always easy listening. Which probably explains why his audience last night could have fitted into a small minibus .

If there is a theme here it is his almost pathological desire for honesty*. Actually cut the “almost” from that last sentence. Simon Amstell talks in his latest show about how maybe autistic people are the most honest people because they cut through the bullshit and don't bother with society's accepted notions of good behaviour. Cutting through the bullshit is what Brown wants to do. During one unsettling set-piece he recreates some imaginary smalltalk. It is more like a Francis Bacon diptych than Live at the Apollo

The comparison with Russell Brand is unavoidable. Brown, like Brand, also has a great way with language, describing himself as a “conversation hooker” because people pay to hear him speak. There is a tiny whiff of Stewart Lee too – but less than in the past – as Brown brutally dissects a Chubby “no relation” Brown joke about Obama. But he is also well on the way to becoming his own man, conjuring up plenty of original ideas too. At one point he posits a challenging conundrum about the age of consent that still has me in an ethical tangle a day later.

And there are stimulating thoughts on everything from using the “n’ word to being bipolar. Despite being as perplexed about the world as ever Brown also seems to have an answer for everything. Or at least a question about everything, which is a start. During his smalltalk riff he screams “Say something real” in a voice loud enough to wake up Glasgow. I guess that’s his 2014 message to the world. Say something real. If you want to see the best show on the Fringe about debunking false consciousness head to Brown Town now.

*One small cavil. For someone who is so honest the title is a little misleading. He is not actually divorced yet because he can’t afford it. But, heck, let’s not let a little detail like that spoil a good title, eh?


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