Jonny Pelham returns to the Fringe for his second year performing stand up at the Pleasance Courtyard.
Fool’s Paradise has all the trappings of a great gig but without any of the sizzle that really sets one apart from the crowd.
Pelham’s set had it's fantastic moments, fleeting moments of brilliance. He a completely loveable character, and you can’t help but route for him. We are giving a guided tour from his adolescence as the only white guy in a Bangladeshi gang in Bradford up to his present day just desperately trying to ask the cold vegan girl in the café out. His battles to be a hero, and be happy, and his ambivalence to an asbestos ridden loft. His jokes got a great reaction from a lot of the audience, but we seemed a little split. I fell on the half chortling audibly at only the occasional joke. Pelham suffers a bit from the overplaying of the awkward boy character; it seemed to seep out of the stories and infect his whole demeanour which becomes distracting of the real direction of the set. Joke ‘Déjà vu’ was commonplace with Pelham having a poor habit of almost re-explaining the joke. Amateur-level set ups really slowed down the pace of the show and made it feel very staged. His racial jokes towards the beginning of the show lacked sufficient oomph to stop them feeling actually a little offensive. Overall, the topics covered all seemed a little obvious, a little banal without a twist or new angle to make them feel fresh.
All this being said, Pelham is a funny man with a pile of humorous and sweet anecdotes. There is no doubt his stand-up is very relatable to your average man on the street and it impossible to not to enjoy its brutal honesty. He has great light patter with the audience and is very in the room with the audience, often breaking up his set by analysing how it's going and telling himself off for mistakes, all of which is very watchable. There is certainly nothing wrong with this show – the jokes are funny, the guy seems great and the atmosphere is easy – but it just doesn’t seem like enough. Fool’s Paradise has all the trappings of a great gig but without any of the sizzle that really sets one apart from the crowd.