Parading onto the stage to a gangster soundtrack and with the threatening stance of a dormouse, Hal Cruttenden jumps in with his first gag and the laughs just keep rolling with this slick comedy routine.
He has credits for Live at the Apollo and Radio 4, and it doesn’t take a critic to note that Cruttenden is a natural performer. His relaxed disposition and natural delivery feel spontaneous and, for most of the show, seemingly unscripted; he’s able to uphold its quality even when exploring a new topic plucked from an unsuspecting audience member.
What’s interesting about Cruttenden is the contrast between his camp, ‘non-threatening’ exterior and the more serious, if not controversial nature of the topics that he explores with his set. Jokes about “terrorist training camps” come unexpectedly from his mouth, as does much more.
Yet this doesn’t in any way make his show unenjoyable. Though there is bound to be a moment when his audience sucks in its breath out of immediate shock, there tends to be a broader serious agenda concerning the perception of men and people's online presence. Its just layered beneath the coating of comedy, and that is what makes Cruttenden so refreshing.
At times his style does become a little repetitive to the point that you can detect where the twist in his build up is going to kick in, but ultimately there is very little I can criticise. Though his stage in Pleasance Two was perfect for the relationship he wanted with his audience, this could have easily been moved to one of Edinburgh’s bigger venues.