Bandanas, braces and £16 patchouli hand soap are just a few of the afflictions that British comedian Chris Turner has had to suffer in life as a skinny, middle class white boy. Knowing this, his passion for gangster rap comes as a surprise to the audience, to say the least. Armed with wit, charm and a wealth of hidden talents, Turner brings his brilliant debut solo show Chris Turner: Pretty Fly to the Edinburgh Fringe this month.
Turner collates his brains, anecdotes, and heaps of trivial knowledge into a highly amusing show.
Pretty Fly could perhaps be described as the stand up version of a ‘coming-of-age’ story. Turner weaves anecdotes about his upbringing with tales of university, his first love, drug-taking and drunken debauchery. Living in admiration of the likes of 50 Cent and Dr Dre, it soon becomes apparent just how incongruous their world is with his own. Turner succeeds in being relatable, touching on the dream of stardom that we have all experienced at some point in our lives. From there, he however goes the extra mile, sharing snippets of favourite rap songs and proceeding to an almost-literary deconstruction of some of his favourite lyrics. Yeah yeah, female degradation is one of the problems of rap - but more importantly, why the hell does 50 Cent drive around with a fax machine in his car?
It took a three-year course in archeology for Turner to realise that in reality, the job at the end of the tunnel was not Indiana Jones-ian enough for his liking. However, though dismissive of his university degree, Turner uses his knowledge effectively to flesh out the material for his show. Most creatively, he puts his familiarity with roman numerals to great devices, reading Xs, Vs, Ms, Cs and Is in ways that would astound his ex-lecturers. Turner collates his brains, anecdotes, and heaps of trivial knowledge into a highly amusing show. He also shows that his learnings aren’t limited to the historical, likely getting more out of the periodic table in his comedy show than he ever did in chemistry class.
Turner’s affable nature and knack for storytelling draw in the audience immediately, as does his friendly banter with the front rows from the very first minutes of his performance. His blending of storytelling with one-liners and his habit of announcing that a pun is a-coming with a mic gesture before delivering it are just a few of the techniques that make his stand up style somewhat unique.
Turner saves a gem for the end of the show, leaving the audience baffled as they leave the Pleasance Bunker. Perhaps Turner’s childhood dream of being rapper was not so ridiculous after all. So go and see Chris Turner, because it turns out that he actually is pretty fly - at least for a white guy.