Phill Jupitus is a performance poet. Who knew? Unfortunately he’s not a very good one. He is a fantastic comedian. His patter between poems is a spot-on and hilarious blend of witty observations and dry punchlines. The jokes in the poems that he reads during his set at his PBH Free Fringe show are hilarious, his witty banter with the audience first class. But his poetry… meh. It’s a bit bland and uninspiring to be honest.
It’s fantastic he’s made himself this accessible to audiences on a budget.
Jupitus is well on the way to national institution status thanks to Never Mind the Buzzcocks (now sadly discontinued), with a hugely lucrative comedy career that continues to go from strength to strength. He does not need the Free Fringe and he does not need us to like his poetry.
But he’s doing it anyway, and good on him. The deal is mutually beneficial: we can enjoy snippets of his stand-up comedy for free and he can indulge in a hobby he clearly feels very passionately about. We can leave feeling totally guiltless at not putting any money in his bucket and he can talk more openly about his own opinions than on the BBC.
The poetry isn’t terrible. His couplets, haikus, caesuras and enjambments aren’t cringe-worthily trite or self-aggrandising. Basically it’s not like Jupitus is metaphorically slitting his wrists and maundering on about the transience of the soul. It’s just that neither is he reading anything particularly moving, profound or lyrical. His metre is bit clunky and his verse a little on the dull side.
But he definitely knows this and his self-deprecating modesty; ‘that was weak’, means all can be forgiven. The poems that work best are the ones, unsurprisingly, with a killer comic hook like Nothing Rhymes with Toksvig and Jeremy Car Fucker.
Jupitus enjoys a good rhyme and The First Gig of Phill Jupitus is impressive simply for how many words he can think of that go with ‘...ous’. A couple of poems about elephants are far less interesting essentially because they’re not funny, and one about reviewers is frankly terrifying: ‘jagged little people’. Eek. You Don’t Bring Me Flours riffs off a clever pun and one about attending therapy is genuinely insightful.
Hopefully Jupitus will keep doing the Free Fringe: his endorsement is a huge boost and it’s fantastic he’s made himself this accessible to audiences on a budget.