When you’re considered the best at what you do, some of us might rest on our laurels but Mat Ricardo wants (indeed, needs) new challenges. So, he invited the world (via the open forum of Twitter) to set him the task of learning ten new tricks in one year which he would then perform at the Fringe. A few ground rules were set to protect life and dignity and off he went learning everything from dice stacking to knife throwing but, as he is a master entertainer, nothing is as simple as it seems.
The skill he has mastered above all others is that of the showman.
As well as the consistently excellent new skills, Ricardo takes time to remind us why he’s the best with some incredible juggling and a couple of excellent new takes on his signature tablecloth trick. Ricardo is a man obsessed with the process of learning new skills and his desire to share this with an audience is an ongoing theme of his Fringe shows. This year he has shown that the skill he has mastered above all others is that of the showman.
Where this show flies is in the charm and banter that floods from Ricardo. He’s a man who is obviously most comfortable doing something seemingly impossible in front of an enraptured audience. His street performer roots are apparent in his ability to work the crowd; alternately badgering and endearing us to clap or not depending on his whims. He’s performing a bunch of tricks and skills that could easily go wrong and he’s not afraid to admit when they do. It only encourages us to cheer all the louder when things go right.
Mat Ricardo is often described as the best variety act in the business and deservedly so. He refers to himself throughout the show as a Vaudeville Schmuck and it’s easy to imagine that, had he been around in the days of Music Hall; he’d have been an international celebrity, topping the bill at venues worldwide.