Review: Eddie Pepitone, Soho Theatre

Eddie Pepitone

The last time I went to see Eddie Pepitone it was downstairs at the Tron pub during the Edinburgh Festival last summer and I had to fight my way past a minor kerfuffle outside. As I squeezed past the group I noticed Hugh Grant at the centre of it. The actor was on a flying visit to the Fringe and also wanted to see Pepitone that night. Unfortunately an issue with IDs among his entourage meant that he didn't make it in. Pepitone is now at the Soho Theatre until May 25 and I heartily recommend that Hugh makes sure all IDs are in order and gets down to W1 pronto.

The Brooklyn-born 54-year-old, whose fans include Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt, is a fascinating mix of old school self-lacerating schmuck and postmodern anti-comedian. Like, say, Neil Hamburger, or our own Ed Aczel, his act deconstructs his act while he is actually performing his act. But he also has some very good Route One jokes too. It might sound strange, but Simon Munnery might be a better comparison.

Pepitone comes on to the Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop and starts as he means to go on – doing a bad sub-Jagger dance routine, imagine a pickled, portly Bruce Willis, and then writing it off as a bad idea. From there he shuttles between working through a hate-list of things that bug him – from self-help gurus to American TV ("all they want is cute people") – while punctuating his riffs with bittersweet banter with the audience. "Whaddya do?…I don't care."

All of this is delivered at an increasingly angry pitch. Pepitone's dyspeptic style has shades of Sam Kinison's decibel-deafening misanthropy but it is slightly more modulated. At times he recalls a less political but equally stroppy Doug Stanhope. At other times he is briefly benign and an ironic smile flickers across his mug, such as when he talks about his nice new hat or he picks up a sheet of tatty notes that turn out to be printouts of his despairing Tweets.

There are clearly a few routines here that he has been doing for a while, but they work very well. At just under an hour this is a short, but impressive set that ends with Pepitone "self-sabotaging" his own gig by showing hecklers what a real heckle could be like. The only trouble is that, as he says, there hasn't been any heckling all evening. The irony is that Pepitone, for all his human frailties and failings, is way too funny to heckle.

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