When Finlay Christie won the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny? competition in 2019, it seemed like his next year would be filled with preparation for his first Edinburgh show in 2020. Then, of course, Covid arrived and those plans were derailed. That’s why I was a little surprised to see that in Christie’s debut hour this year, he seems to have gone through somewhat of a rebrand.
Finlay Christie will be the future of stand-up comedy.
On his poster and as he walks on stage, his focus is more in terms of his online credentials – YouTube views and TikTok followers that he has built up over lockdown. As he explained that the show was going to be focussing on his life as a young person, the rebrand makes sense. The honours of receiving the SYTYF? prize certainly catches the attention of reviewers (mine included), but for building a brand and fanbase, the future is TikTok.
The first thing that comes across about Christie’s performance is his passion for comedy and stand-up as a whole. He mentions several times that this debut hour is incredibly special to him. With these admissions comes a genuine humbleness that was superb to see.
In terms of the material, Christie is our personal insider into Gen Z culture. The routines are well-timed, relevant and, most of all, very funny. Yet what I enjoyed most about his first routine, highlighting the differences between “boys” and “men”, was how expertly traditional the structure felt (for me, it was reminiscent of some early Jerry Seinfeld routines). I was grateful as well that Christie, as a young person, didn’t fall back on to the easy “war on millennials” trope, which could cheapen some of his punchlines. It shows that he has a handle on today’s culture and it shines in his set. Another nugget of Gen Z culture he lets his audience know is that their attention spans don’t usually tend to last too long. To counter this in the show, the audience is always given something new to focus on every so often, be it a slideshow, a song or a home movie. It seems Christie has translated TikTok culture to the stage with ease.
Towards the end of the set (and in an increasingly hotter room) it was a pure joy to see some back and forth between Christie and the crowd, who were now hanging on to his every word. He made this look effortless. It’s rare to see a debut comic build up such a quick rapport with his audience, especially after describing himself as a young Gen Z man, privately educated and someone so numb to today’s society that he’d prefer to have his phone than be happy.
Overall, a very strong start and a triumph of a debut hour. TikTok may play a big part in the future of the Fringe, but, if he keeps going like this, Finlay Christie will be the future of stand-up comedy.