Alice Fraser: Ethos

What does it mean to be human? Can a machine learn to be human? Or failing that can it at least learn how to be funny? That’s Alice Fraser’s main objective and constitutes the basic framework for her new show and though Fraser herself admits it’s a tad gimmicky, her monotone AI companion (called Ethos) proves to be the ideal straight man in this unconventional comedy duo, or rather the ideal straight robot.

Takes geeky glee in deconstructing her already self-deprecating set

With this setup, comedy and storytelling are the tools of choice to investigate what it means to be human in all its irrational glory. Touching on race, religion, sex, art, and more instances of oh-so-human hypocrisy than you can shake a stick at, Fraser certainly gives us and Ethos plenty to chew on.

Fraser is a bubbly, welcoming presence flitting from story to story in a free-form tumble turn of words and ideas with plenty of jokes thrown in for good measure. Her style is self-avowedly post-modern and she takes geeky glee in deconstructing her already self-deprecating set, which not only succeeds in getting a few giggles but also makes you feel smarter for having listened to it. Her AI sidekick on the other hand is wonderfully deadpan and pedantically subverts the punchline and our expectations, making our own inherent ridiculousness all the more apparent.

It’s a welcome change to see a comedian who doesn’t need to resort to being shocking or outrageous to please a crowd though sometimes she either goes too far or doesn’t go far enough with her self-deprecation and deconstruction with a few too many jokes landing in an awkward middle ground. Her indecisiveness provides her with plenty of strong material but I’d love to see her go all out and pull no punches in the future.

Reviews by Liam Rees

Pleasance Courtyard

UNCONDITIONAL

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Signals

★★★
Summerhall

Everything Not Saved

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Daughter

★★★
Pleasance Dome

Lights Over Tesco Car Park

★★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Chase Scenes

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Humans have always been fascinated by non-human minds. From the Golem, to Frankenstein's monster, to artificial intelligence – computers who could think, and threaten civilisation. Imagine an AI: a brilliant but naive mind, newly created. Now imagine that mind learning about our world by watching a comedy show. Alice Fraser (The Bugle and BBC Radio 4) explains our society of contradictions to a new robot mind. A silly, funny, smart show that explores what it is to be human. 'A life-changer' ***** (EdinburghGuide.com). 'Inescapably funny' ***** (Herald Sun). 'A sexy cerebral twist to comedy' *****(OUTinPerth).