Edinburgh Fringe Review: Adam Hess, Heroes @ The Hive

Last year Adam Hess picked up an Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination for his debut show. This year he is back and faces the tricky second show syndrome. It doesn’t seem that tricky to Hess though. If anything this show is better than 2015’s breakthrough hour.

The style is the same of course. Hess is a high energy performer who is sometimes hard to keep up with as the words spool out of him at supersonic pace. But there is more of a firm narrative here this year to guide you through - the story of Hess splitting up with a girlfriend, finding another and along the way, almost getting a big TV break. 

On Twitter Hess is known for his one-liners and while there are a few self-contained quips peppered throughout the set it is actually the way he leads us through his adventures that gets the most laughs, taking the audience down one path before pulling the rug with an unexpected punchline. 

The performance style is odd but accessible. He’s a bit Mr Bean here, a shade young Rik Mayall there. Hess is something of an eternal manchild, from the way he runs down the aisle at the start to the way he tells his tales of about growing up with eccentric parents (his mum sends dried out teabags to junk mail companies...). He recalls shutting himself away in his bedroom as a teenager, obsessed with coming up with jokes and in some ways he hasn't changed that much. 

Some of the best riffs feel tailor-made for a sitcom. The audition for a big break that goes wrong from the moment Hess accidentally picks up a piece of fruit he has never encountered before is a particularly strong set-piece, but there are a number of similarly great moments, such as his account of trying to cover up an bedsheet stain by intentionally spilling a drink one on it.

I can see why some people might find Hess is little hard to take in an extended sitting - he is, shall we say, full-on - but once you get on his wavelength he is a joy. The show is called Feathers - it definitely tickled me. 

At Heroes @ The Hive until Aug 28. Tickets and info here.


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