Andy Stedman – Parental Guidance

Andy Stedman's son Freddy has been gifted a stand-up set in his honour. As well as talking about his boy, Stedman jokes and sings about his relationship with his family, growing up and his experiences as a new father. There’s also one weird Nazi joke. Stedman is, in every fibre of his body, a Dad, evident from his slightly unfortunate sense of humour. The gags, by and large, are fairly cringe-worthy, and those times I laughed were out of politeness. 'Don’t kids say the darndest things?' also made an appearance.

Parental Guidance is the show for you if you like being accosted by insufferable relatives at dinner parties.

The vanilla jokes soon gave way to vanilla (and patronising) pedagogy, including such nuggets of wisdom as 'Isn’t coolness, really, just... being true to yourself?' Stop the press, folks, Socrates is back from the dead.

Sometimes, Stedman's show descended from sentimentality even deeper into smugness as he chastised a laundry list of generic pet hates from Kanye West to hipsters. This was cheap, drawing more cheers from cynics than genuine laughter from the unconverted.

However, this is a show that explicitly states that it is for the converted. Stedman at the start gauges how many parents are in the audience, and has everyone write advice to their younger selves on sheets of paper, which is actually a cute device.

Throughout the show Stedman attempts to riff on the salient counsel handed to him, but his banter tends to devolve into tedious small-talk. There was one particularly dire moment as Stedman gave two ten-year-olds tips for spicing up their school-life and causing a ruckus in the classroom, like Stedman himself presumably did in his own youth, This is England style with a can of spray paint and a crowbar. His suggestions were so lame (Andy’s hot take on classroom decadence is…'try and include specific words, like homogenise, into everything you say to the class - it might help make the lessons go by quicker' - such a dangerously unhinged rebel really shouldn’t be dishing out advice to new parents) that Andy came out looking exactly like the square he so desperately didn’t want to look like.

Mercifully, Stedman gave up quickly, and I was briefly able to stop cringing into my armpit. Perhaps the bit could have been saved if Stedman went full throttle and cared less about boring the kids, Dad-style.

At least Andy Stedman is a genuinely friendly and likeable man, and for all his comedic shortfalls brings an undeniable warmth to the stage.

Dad level hit fever pitch when Stedman brought out his guitar. Some songs were actually mildly clever and original, including a song about reverse psychology which implores his son not to do things in the hope that he'll do the opposite. Hitler's Dad, about catastrophically unsuccessful fathers, had some potential but collapsed quickly into cliched ‘mum and dad’ observations, the level of wit never surpassing 'Hi, Hungry, I’m Dad.'

Parental Guidance is the show for you if you like being accosted by insufferable relatives at dinner parties. 

Reviews by Ben Munster

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

New dad Andy returns with his second Edinburgh show, determined to pass on his life "wisdom" to son Freddie Elvis, the poor kid! Parental Guidance is packed with tongue-in-cheek life advice via comedy songs, jokes and observations as Andy tries to help his boy avoid all the mistakes he's made! There's something for everyone here, and you never know, you may even learn something yourself (although probably not!). 'Stedman displays real talent playing to his audience which gives the show much of its charm' (BroadwayBaby.com). Piccadilly Comedy Club New Comedian of the Year Finalist 2017.

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