Mitch Benn: Reduced Circumstances

Mitch Benn, a comedian much loved for his fantastically catchy musical contributions to Radio 4's “The Now Show”, returns to Edinburgh with a new show supposedly based around his sudden impressive weight loss. However, although he claims this is his first show to actually have a point to it, he doesn't seem to have got the hang of a themed show just yet.

He does talk entertainingly about his radical change in size but not for very long, because he says that would involve half a show of whinging and half a show of being smug. Unfortunately this doesn't leave much to talk about and although he makes good points about the madness of fat people being judged morally for their size, you can file them under “wise” rather than necessarily “funny”, a common pitfall for a social critic like Benn when he's on the warpath. That said, his witty observational routine on the argument between left brain and right when pointlessly buying 2am kebabs should be recognisable to anyone who's boozily stocked up on early morning calories. However, as he says, food is a boring addiction compared to the other cooler ones and he doesn't really stick with it for too much of the show.

This lack of faith in his own centrepiece gives the show a bit of a drifting feel. This is compounded by the fact that his strongest stuff has always been his songs and he sings only once about his weight loss, apologising to his fans who preferred the old him; it was a case of breaking their hearts or “literally breaking mine”. The rest are very good songs though, with the infuriatingly hummable likes of a song about bouncing druids and a Lancashire accented rap about quantum mechanics aided by the “Everyday Looper” app on an iPhone. His use of his own beatboxing on repeat as his musical accompaniment shows off his extraordinary skills once again but without the music he is on less firm ground. He is the 509th comedian this decade to take on Intelligent Design, and although he does it well the point has surely been made already. His gag-rate is a little low. However, he remains a charmingly optimistic comic, singing the praises of the London Olympics: “We're top normal country!” His closing BBC song is a heartfelt paean to a great institution, proving that comedy can be used for praise as well as blame. I've liked his previous work more but he's still a good bet, regardless of weight.

The Blurb

The world is shrinking, the economy's shrinking and last year Mitch Benn, ‘The country's leading musical satirist’ (Times), shrank by 10 stone. So what will he (and we) do now? Music. Mirth. Morbid obesity.