It’s called the Fringe for a reason and this is the best example of its ideal of experimentation and originality that I have seen.
Bob Blackman’s Local is inspired by the work of Bob “The Tray” Blackman, an all-but-forgotten 1960’s light entertainment star. But it is so much more than that. For “approximately 45 minutes and 18 seconds” it recycles the stock-gags and one-liners of the light entertainment world, at the same time offering a thoroughly modern comedic deconstruction of them. All the while, it manages to be one of the most genuine tributes from one comic act to another that you’re likely to see.
I’m sure there were more references than I can count on one hand that eluded me, but rarely have I left a show with so much positive feeling. The antics of “the man with no act”, Johnny “Showaddywaddy” Sorrow, Mr Swann (winner of the Newcastle-under-Lyme balaclava wearer of the year award) and “the tribute act to the man with no act” are bewildering and thrilling. Yet for all of the show’s postmodern tendencies, never once is there a sense that the performers are trying to demonstrate how clever and subversive they are. This is humour stripped down to its first principles: one person trying to make another laugh purely for the sake of it.
This type of show will never be mainstream (though I’m sure someone said the same thing about The Boosh) and it shouldn’t be. It’s called the Fringe for a reason and this is the best example of its ideal of experimentation and originality that I have seen.