A variety show with a somewhat dark twist, Stand-Up Tragedy offers a medley of media and performers, each with very different takes on telling tragedy. They ‘make you think, make you smile and make you sad’ through poetry, music, stand-up comedy and general discussion.
Highly ambitious - at times, maybe too much so - this show is definitely quite unique in its subject matter. If approached as an hour of thought-provoking varied performances, then Stand-Up Tragedy is incredibly successful and quite innovative. However, if entered with the expectations of an hour of stand-up, it is definitely not comedic enough.
From a recital of Thompson’s poem ‘City of Dreadful Night’ by James Mckay, to a quite odd and disjointed performance of Gary Numan’s Our Friends Electric by The ManAmp, this show was far from continuously funny. Yet it did, of course, explore the themes of tragedy in an interesting and unusual manner - which is what it did set out to do.
Highlights included poet Mel Jones. Performing a series of three poems discussing the ‘tragedy of the bladder’ - entitled ‘Caught Short’ - the tragedy of women’s obsessions with their weight and appearance (“you don’t have to try to entice a straight guy”), and finally a poem discussing bestiality using only words beginning with the letter ‘M’.
Other show highlight was Stand-up Tragedy headliner Robin Ince - part of Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage. Ince offered a warm and conversational piece discussing the effect of losing a loved one. He was exceptionally natural on stage and his sentiment and message was quite beautiful. When discussing the death of his brother-in-law, leaving his sister with four kids, he quite incredibly managed to keep things amusing and with perfect moments of clarity; “We are all star stuff”.
Stand-up Tragedy is far from typical and definitely not one for those wanting light-hearted Fringe Comedy, but it is thought-provoking and its differences undoubtedly make it memorable.