Ian Fox has come up with a fairly novel twist on observational comedy: his show centres on a series of photographs shown on television screens around the room so that the audience can see what he saw. The most engaging aspect of the concept is the idea that comedy really does exist just around the corner, waiting to be photographed by someone like Fox with an eye for it. However, the concept can’t quite carry the show. At best the effect is that of a live action BuzzFeed article, fairly entertaining but worth no more than fifteen minutes’ attention. Images of Brits on ‘a day out’, for example, worked well, largely because the audience were allowed to contemplate the photos for themselves.
The problems come with Fox’s spoken material. His routine is largely weak – he has an unfortunate tendency to explain the visual humour, even after his audience have laughed. Moreover, his delivery is extremely low in energy. In deference to the small space, he eschewed the microphone. While this helped instil a sense of camaraderie, it lessened his command of the stage. As the show progressed, members of the audience began commenting on the photos on display, sometimes with better gags than Fox could come up with.
The highlight of the show came in his photographs of Edinburgh during the Fringe. Unlike the photos based in Manchester, Chester and North Wales, these were recognisable for all the audience and finally reached the common ground that allows for great observational comedy. It’s a section that could do with expanding, because it’s where Fox hits his stride and produces consistent laughter. The show concludes with an interactive game of Where’s Wally, which, on the day I saw it, was won by a troupe of scouts. It’s a shame that the show as a whole takes on the same format – a few great jokes trying hard to hide in the background.