Fred Cooke: Comfort in Chaos

Comfort in Chaos is unsure of itself, just as Cooke seems to be unsure of himself. His jokes are either observational and dull, or absurdist and contrived. The show begins strongly as Cooke interacts with his audience, engaging them in light banter. He has a very friendly demeanour and respects his audience. He is lovely to talk to, but before long he seems to lose confidence which makes interaction stilted and uninteresting. The audience may put this down to nerves on his part, but the fidgety, awkward demeanour never relents - he appears to lack a certain confidence that is vital in a profession as cut-throat as stand-up comedy.He opens by playing a song on his guitar about the trials of life as a comedian, the aspirations he started out with and what he will make do with further down the line. His musical talent is average, and the song is just one joke all the way through and is tiresome to listen to. This does not set him off on the right foot with the audience and all of his work at the beginning is now undone. His jokes are unimpressive, unoriginal and often drawn out, leaving the audience yearning for them to come to their inevitable conclusion. His material also suffers from inconsistencies, whether this is because he ad libs and makes mistakes by accident or whether his narrative jokes suffer from a lack of editing is uncertain. Nevertheless, I spent most of my time trying to figure out the tangled mess of plot rather than listening to the punchlines. He brazenly admits that he only prepared 20 minutes worth of material for a 50 minute performance (which under-ran).The show then loses the stand-up element and descends into a bizarre showcase of Cooke’s talents. An overlong interlude in which he prances about the stage dancing like Michael Jackson, although a good party trick, is not funny in the slightest, especially for a prolonged duration. Then on to the melodicas. Cooke takes song requests from the audience as he claims he can perform from memory any popular song he knows. As far as I or anyone else in the audience is concerned, this is not a joke; this is not funny. These strange tangential performances would be fine if he had an impressive talent, but there is no such luck.Often Cooke laughed at his jokes more than the audience. He seems nerve-ridden and uncomfortable. This show needs more jokes and editing. The potential is there, but in its current incarnation Comfort in Chaos painfully limps towards its baffling conclusion.

Reviews by Stephanie Bartlett

The Blurb

Approaching deluded levels of confidence, Fred promises to somehow solve life's problems through human awkwardness and slightly skewed pop songs. ‘I love Fred. He has the real spirit of the clown in him’ (Tommy Tiernan).