In his debut hour of Fringe stand-up, Jack Barry delivers an entertaining and energetic set which, despite his insistence to the contrary, contains an undercurrent of awareness and intelligence. His callbacks and the details of his little fictions are especially strong, constructing fresh worlds from an original perspective with just enough grounding in reality to invest in. What really sells the show is that Barry is so
Barry is Eddie Izzard-like in his excellent use of callbacks
There are some weaker moments. The ‘I legally can’t tell you the name of Company X, so here’s a transparent and obvious description of it’ gag is a very old one. Though he does acknowledge the ubiquity of jokes about Tinder, his own are not strong enough to make inclusion worthwhile. The reversal-of-ambitions-about-comedy-and-day-job piece is a repackaging of a Phil Wang joke from at least three years ago, and the ‘I’m shocked that X was alive until it was killed!’ gag is an old Private Eye classic. The reading out of a letter two-thirds through the show needs a subversive twist to round the section off.
Nitpicks aside, there is very good stuff throughout the rest of the hour. A routine about reincarnation is the hilarious highlight. Attempts to include a message or a moral are welcomed but the one we get in the final minutes feels a little shoehorned; extending the reincarnation piece and including more callbacks (Barry is Eddie Izzard-like in his excellent use of callbacks) and moving it to the end could make it a better climax to the show.
Jack Barry is a chipper, friendly, and optimistic performer with a strong debut hour of stand-up and enormous potential. If I were allowed to give half-stars, it would be a 3.5. I anticipate the rest of his career with great interest.