This is a very odd hour indeed. Rick Shapiro explains how he is still recovering from an amnesia inducing heart attack and truth be told he did not seem well at all. It’s not clear whether it is part of his act or not but Shapiro’s hands shook, he stuttered as he spoke and he lost his train of thought frequently. There was nothing funny about these mannerisms and overwhelming concern for his health and well-being distracted from what little comedy there was.
Shapiro opened with some material satirising US politics which felt sorely misjudged for a Fringe audience. Over the course of the hour there was very little structure to his random mental wanderings; he occasionally started anecdotes and then abandoned them before starting them again later. He described himself as a ‘purveyor of filth’ and this certainly be seen in the ground he covers, moving from health and drugs to various sexual activities, exploits and stories. He interrupts himself with multiple other character personalities, seemingly favouring absurdity over punch lines which were often left out of his jokes. With his supremely surreal anecdotal style, terrifying intensity and his various ticks and quirks, Shapiro has the feel of a cult comic but without the humour to back it up. There is a fine line between madness and genius and deciding which Rebirth was quite obviously split the audience: some were amused by much of the show, while for the rest Shapiro fell the wrong side of the divide.