Cocaine and Potatoes

Matthew Giffen is a charming whirlwind of a man, commanding the audience with his larger-than-life on-stage persona. He engages with the crowd well, dealing with latecomers excellently and making the audience feel comfortable with any interaction they might be put through. However, it soon becomes clear that this excellent stage manner with the crowd is likely padding out the hour for a set which is a little thin on the ground.

Maybe all that cocaine (and potatoes, I guess?) is affecting his ability to rehearse and polish a half-learned show.

Between checking his set list at the side of the stage and completely forgetting a joke mid-flow (I never found out what his Batman material was going to be, which is a shame because it seemed to be going somewhere really good), Giffen's attitude to the show is pretty sloppy. When he actually gets into the set-up of his jokes, the punch lines are for the most part good but these are few and far between because he's easily distracted by the audience. Now we're reaching the end of the Fringe, shows with a shorter run like Giffen's are at risk of being overlooked if not as polished as shows which are in their third week of performance. It's a lack of shine which he really needs to work on if he wants to keep his crowds.

Granted, there are some pieces in the set which do require audience participation, such as Giffen's problem solving section. However, it's not as strong as his written material and his quickly rattling through each "problem" means there's no real chance to work on a joke for each query. Instead, Giffen delivers a few one-liners which don't land as well as intended. He's got an excellent persona and there's definite potential in Giffen's set, but maybe all that cocaine (and potatoes, I guess?) is affecting his ability to rehearse and polish a half-learned show.

Reviews by Louise Jones

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The Blurb

A Colombian/Irish/Englishman takes on identity, the world and why you have to try a Japanese toilet. An upbringing on a staple diet of cocaine and potatoes will take its toll, come and see what you end up with. Laughing Horse runner-up and Amused Moose finalist 2012, Hong Kong Comedy Competition finalist 2013, Perth Fringe World Critics Choice winner 2015. ‘Absolutely hilarious, watch him before he gets snapped up by TV’ (Mark Dolan). ‘A controlled explosion of energy, all so enjoyable’ (

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