The Rules of Engagement, Tony Jameson’s latest Fringe hour, has the feel of bumping into a charming acquaintance that you haven’t seen in a while on the street. It’s great to hear all their stories and find out about the big events which have happened in their life, but the encounter is a very surface level interaction. Tony Jameson’s account of how he bit the bullet and decided to give marriage a go is a lovely hour of comedy, but it doesn’t dig very deep.
This is also a show that rewards audience attention, with constant callbacks to past jokes.
Jameson is a solid stand up performer. He’s affable, his interactions with the audience feel authentic and his hour has a natural flow to it. His material is also solid, as he demonstrates particular skill for adding motifs to his act, as seen in the abundance of movie references peppered throughout the show following an early mention of his career as a film production lecturer. It’s just a shame that such a capable performer is tackling the very well-worn subject matter of relationships and personal maturity.
It’s an undoubtedly funny show. The illustrative powerpoint is a nice gimmick and adds extra humour to already amusing lines. There’s the impression that the screen might be slightly underutilised, but the introduction of elements beyond the initial quotes lead it to become a vital part of the show. It helps to structure an already clean hour, which uses Tony’s impending nuptials to give the itself momentum. This is also a show that rewards audience attention, with constant callbacks to past jokes.
The Rules of Engagement ends on an intriguing dark note. Jameson discusses an issue that he struggles with, one which is hinted at throughout the show as he comically recounts the various stresses and frustrations of planning a fairytale wedding sadly lacking in batmobiles. He expresses desire to resolve it for the sake of his partner. Exploring these feelings further would have perhaps added some emotional punch to an already personal hour - one which is a sweetly amusing and earnest, if not quite revelatory.