Edinburgh Fringe Review: Jordan Brookes, Laughing Horse @ Cellar Monkey

Jordan Brookes is a comedian who has definitely got a very distinctive talent. Once seen he is never forgotten. He is creative, inventive and not scared to try out new things onstage even though they might not necessarily work.

His second Edinburgh show, The Making Of, underlines how good he is without ever - for me anyway - quite delivering. From the very start his set had a stop-start quality which made it hard to build up momentum or to get the audience to engage with the performance. Every now and again he would step back and comment on proceedings just as you might have been getting into it. This could be precisely the self-sabotaging uncomfortable mood Brookes is aiming for though, in which case he does a brilliant job.

One of the running themes in the autobiographical show is the classic Fringe trope of being shaped by a troubled childhood. The gag - or maybe the truth - here is that everything he does springs from his father being largely absent from his childhood. It’s a theme he keeps returning to from different angles, maybe labouring the point a little too much. Then again there are some gags that are pushed so far - such as giving the audience the finger in various ways - they become funnier the more he does it.

The Making Of is as big on physicality as it is on verbal humour. In various bullet point flashbacks and flash-forwards Brookes shows us the stages of his life, from being born (excellent) to loony tunes decrepitude. He has a marvellously mobile face. In fact it is funny that he is playing a venue called the Cellar Monkey as I bet he could do an excellent impression of a monkey trapped in a cellar.

Brookes is without a doubt a comedian to keep tabs on. I wish I was clever enough to suggest ways he could improve. Maybe better direction? Neater editing? Maybe more concessions to an audience who haven’t paid to get in - it’s a free gig - so need to be got onside quickly rather than made to feel like they are watching someone have a public breakdown?

But I get the impression Brookes knows what he wants to do and is doing it. This show is definitely worth fifty minutes of your time, but I have the sneaking suspicion that future Brookes shows will be even better. 

Until August 28. Free - info here.

*** for the performance I saw. **** for potential for greatness. Stick that on your poster.

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