Tom Mayhew’s charmingly awkward persona hides a fantastic alternative comic mind. This show is a 40-minute work in progress, working through the sadness of a dead relationship. The humour has a strong and unrelenting undercurrent of tragedy and rather than self-deprecating, the material appears to veer into the realm of self-loathing.
Appearing like the love child of Paul Foot and Simon Amstell, Mayhew delivers a very competent show, at times surreal, at times deeply personal.
Mayhew’s delivery is unlike many of the comics you’ll see at the fringe. He stands facing the wall, occasionally flashing nervous glances at the audience, however, his fantastic, unfaltering delivery displays an assured comic presence. The performance style is incredibly self-aware but many of the audience mistake the conceit for reality and heckle Mayhew – something he is more than capable of dealing with, tearing into the interruptions and ingratiating himself with the rest of the audience. He has the unusual skill of maintaining control over the room even without eye contact.
The material consists mainly of one liners, at times surreal, at times observational, on topics ranging from sexuality to Top Cat. The show has an odd rhythm and momentum, though it’s fair to say this is intentional – Mayhew seems to enjoy catching the audience off-guard. At one point, he begins a two-minute section called ‘heckle Tom’, which throws the previously rowdy crowd and leads to hilariously positive heckles. At one point material on suicide loses the audience – despite the show having themes of depression and anxiety, the material on suicide seems rushed over for such intense subject matter.
Appearing like the love child of Paul Foot and Simon Amstell, Mayhew delivers a very competent show, at times surreal, at times deeply personal. Calling himself ‘the stand-up comedy version of Eeyore’ seems apt – even a fairly uplifting ending gets drowned in his perpetual negativity. For some this may be a bemusing show, sometimes difficult to watch and tricky to empathise with Mayhew’s continuously pessimistic outlook, however his jokes are sharp, never predictable and consistently land.