Ian Macpherson is perhaps best known for a joke he came up with years ago: ‘They say you play at _____ twice in your career. Once on the way up. Once on the way down. It’s good to be back.’ Not unexpectedly, it makes its reprisal inhis latest Fringe show with a clever twist.
The minds of the audience whir furiously in motion as they try to keep up with Macpherson’s wit.
In The Everlasting Book Tour, Macpherson, with characteristic dryness, takes audience members on a tour of the imaginary books he claims to have written. He favours witty side-remarks – which glance off a less compelling overall show structure – over more intricately-crafted jokes. The minds of the audience whir furiously in motion as they try to keep up with Macpherson’s wit.
While some parts of the show are slightly rushed - limited timing being a possible explanation for this - elsewhere it seems to move too slowly. Macpherson’s attempts to expose his artifice grow tedious after a while; the book excerpts he reads out create lulls in momentum; a series of jokes about Catholics had me craving for less hackneyed material.
Occasionally, Macpherson’s show becomes a victim of its own cleverness. There are moments when audience laughter arises mainly from a desire to proclaim one’s knowingness, rather than from anything really hilarious about the jokes themselves. Given its literary theme, it is also ironic that the show would probably have been a more compelling read. Yet there is something so apt about this that one suspects it may be intentional on Macpherson’s part.
Who knows, this might just be the premise of The Everlasting Book Tour – to not just make people laugh at the prospect of a comedian in his decline, but to allow the comedian himself to masterfully enact it on stage and gain the upper hand.