Steve Bugeja: Unpronounceable

Due to the fact that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe demands that performers submit a name for a show months in advance of performance, many titles do not represent the content of the show. You get the sense that Steve Bugeja’s Unpronounceable fell victim to such scheduling pressures.

A very polished performance for a comic definitely on the up.

After the opening exchanges, where Bugeja settles once and for all the debate over how his surname is pronounced (see his poster for details), he launches into his main topic. The show is about decisions – how we make them and what they says about us – with the focus on one particular decision Bugeja had to make following a whirlwind romance at the end of last year’s Fringe.

When it comes to decisions, he counts himself as a head thinker, calmly weighing up each the options in any given situation, noting the pros and cons, before coming to a cogent and logical choice. He contrasts his heuristic method heart thinkers, those who go with their feelings or intuitions, dismissing rational analysis. True, the way humans think cannot be so easily separated into ‘head versus heart’, but as we’re in at a comedy gig and not in a lecture hall and the premise holds together.

This type of show contains more than its fair share of exposition. The first thing you notice about Bugeja is his craft; he is a master technician. The majority of the set is structured around his dissection of the base drives that constitute the ‘going with your gut’ motivation. It’s rare that a stand-up uses the word ‘research’ so much in a show; rarer still that it’s actually appropriate.

Despite his geeky persona and self-deprecation, Bugeja is supremely confident onstage and has every right to be. His material is watertight; the delivery of every punchline is on the money, each seemingly adlibbed aside is perfectly weighted, and there are a few textbook examples of how to work a call-back. The material itself, especially when dealing with his romantic life, is funny and light-hearted (which makes the appearance of a certain controversial flag all the more hilarious); one of the nicest things you can say about Bugeja is that, as regards technique, he is far better than he needs to be.

Coming to a decision over the predicament with which he was faced provides the resolution to the show. Again this is well-worked and is inspired by a really heart-breaking description of his grandfather in his final days.

A very polished performance for a comic definitely on the up. 

Reviews by Ryan O'Connor


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The Blurb

Steve has a bag for life, he remembers it every single time. That's not even his best chat up line and only the third coolest thing about him. BBC New Comedy Award winner, as heard on BBC Radio 4 and seen on BBC Three. ‘Truly hilarious’ (Fest). ‘A polished hour of plentiful jokes and compelling storytelling’ (Scotsman). ‘Puts gags front and centre of a compelling narrative’ ( ‘Big laughs and gentle pathos’ (Guardian). ‘An instinctive genuine comic’ ( ‘You'll like this new stand-up, an out and proud nerd’ (Independent).