Actions Speak Louder Than Birds

The problem with small – “cosy” – spaces is that it’s very difficult for a critic to hide. The audience and the performer(s) develop a relationship simply because of proximity to each other and that’s what makes slating a show even harder. In Marc Hogan’s case, this is excruciating. He’s affable, very likeable and boundlessly enthusiastic but the problem is that he’s just not that funny. His downfall is that he’s doing this here. Were he to attempt this show as a small touring production in his home town he might be met with some success but he’s brought it to the Edinburgh Fringe, perhaps one of the most demanding places on the planet. There are so many individuals or groups, amateurs and professionals, offering all types of comedy (improvisation, observational etcetera) every August that there is so much choice and, faced with such stiff competition, Hogan doesn’t really stand a chance. The idea behind Actions Speak Louder Than Birds is a bet. Apparently Hogan, a corporate speaker, made a one pound wager with a colleague that he couldn’t write and perform a show in Edinburgh that made people cry with laughter. On this showing, it seems Hogan is a pound down. His main problem is that his material had been done before ad nauseam by both professionals and amateurs, most of whom have managed to elicit more laughs than Hogan. In some cases the topics have been done to death. There’s the mother-in-law/girlfriend’s mother - yawn. There’s having a sly dig at the Daily Mail and its politics - done every week on at least 4 panel shows. It’s old. There’re Nazis, though God knows where they came from. They’re completely unrelated to anything else. And then there are unnecessary references to sex and plenty of gratuitous profanity – it’s not funny and it’s not clever; it’s just laziness. Still, perhaps I’m being overly-critical. Hogan himself states that he is a “part-time comedian” and as this is his first foray into the world of stand up perhaps he still needs time to fine tune his act. He does, to his credit, have some themes that could be worked upon. There is a lot of potential in his references to “free range leprechauns” and “WiFi lucky heather” to highlight the absurdity of superstition and he plays on his Irish heritage and Catholicism with some success. One thing he did say that made me laugh was in regard to why he wears two condoms when having sex – “to be sure, to be sure”. He also makes excellent use of PowerPoint to parody its ubiquity in modern office life. Hogan’s problem is that he does not develop these. He’s too quick to move on to other topics that he has, presumably, seen done successfully by other comics and is assuming that they’ll work for him too. They’re the “safe” options. They’re certain to raise a laugh, right? I’m afraid they don’t and my advice would be to jettison them, work on his more original ideas and try again next year. To quote one of Hogan’s own lines: “I don’t know anything about comedy”. Sadly, that is too true.

Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

Can a corporate communications trainer become an Edinburgh festival comic in just 11 months - all to win a £1 bet? Join Marc Hogan somewhere on the learning curve to comedy greatness. (May contain birds. ) www.myfunnybusiness.com.

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