You won’t find many performers at this year’s Fringe trumpeting their lack of uniqueness. After all, there’s a lot riding on standing out: among the thousands of shows in the capital, it needs to be yours that has its flyers dispensed, seats filled, and reviewers amazed.
His finesse in deconstructing human neuroses — with clarity, intelligence, and brilliant comic instinct — makes him a much rarer commodity than even his show's title suggests.
The title of Jake Yapp’s show, of course, plays this attention-grabbing game, planting an idiomatic flag saying, ‘I am special and worth your time’ — although Yapp was quick to point out that being one in a million means that, in the UK alone, there are sixty people exactly like him. We’re not as individual as we’d like to think. This isn’t a show about uniqueness, then, because that’s impossible to find. It’s about how we scrabble to be unique in spite of its unattainability, each of us failing in slightly different (but not individual) ways.
Comics are often lauded as ‘revelations’; Yapp’s show, however, is genuinely revelatory. As he dexterously flipped between voices and characters in a wickedly fast, brilliantly judged opening bit, as he triggered waves of laughter with a raised eyebrow, Yapp was mining his subjects for laughs, yes, but also for startling insights. The very notion of individuality, the benefits of the pseudoscientific theory of ‘orgone’, and the hidden engines of consumerist culture were all laid bare — intensely clever commentary in an irresistible package of hilarity.
And, make no mistake, Yapp is very funny. Topics ranging from smutty analogies for veganism to Hippocrates’ theory of the four humours only have one thing in common: Yapp made them hilarious. Yapp, ever genial, was also impressively unflappable, fashioning diamantine moments of comedy out of errant phone tones and muted audience murmurs.
Yapp hasn’t performed at the Fringe for a while — seven years, in fact. If he stays away for that long again, the Fringe will be the poorer for his absence. His finesse in deconstructing human neuroses — with clarity, intelligence, and brilliant comic instinct — makes him a much rarer commodity than even his show's title suggests.