Wil Hodgson: Punk Folk Tales

Hodgson begins his act by describing himself as “a man of contrast” and this is certainly true. He has quite a solid, macho persona, rather reminiscent of Minty from Eastenders, yet has bright pink hair and Care Bear tattoos. It makes him quite hard to describe and, almost suitably, it is rather difficult to outline this show; on one hand it appears to be a stand-up act, but in truth it appears more like a theatrical monologue. The piece is set in “an old man's pub” like the ones Hodgson inhabits in his home town of Chippenham. He spends the first two-thirds of the show sat at the pub table, nursing a pint, and gives a lengthy explanation as to why. Apparently his agent has told him that in previous acts he has looked uncomfortable, so this time he has gone out of his way to create relaxing surroundings.The problem is this setting is almost TOO comfortable. Although he hardly pauses for breath, Hodgson has such a laid-back conversational tone that, combined with such static staging, results in rather a deadened atmosphere. There are some great observations within the material, my favourite being the realisation that Care-A-Lot (home of the Care Bears) is actually a perfect communist utopia; but when these moments of brilliance occur, the audience have become too chilled out and their senses dulled to provoke any kind of reaction.Things do improve somewhat in the last third of the show when Hodgson emerges from behind his table. There is a remarkable transformation in his delivery of the material: previously his eyes have remained either downwards or looking at one tiny fraction of the audience; once he is up and moving around, he becomes much more alert and engages with every member of the audience, constantly alternating where his focus is. His manner becomes much more physical, his hands start to gesture and you can visibly see the audience shift from an almost restlessness to becoming actively involved and interested. The manner of his routine is to tell a long anecdote, something that requires a lot of setting up and description. The crux of each joke, therefore, is rather spaced out and the laughs have long periods of time in between. As a theatrical monologue, Hodgson could get away with it; listed in the comedy section of the Fringe, however, I fear his audience may feel a little shortchanged.

Reviews by Damian Sandys

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The Blurb

Chippenham's punk storyteller and Perrier Award winner returns. As heard on BBC Radio 4. 'The light at the end of the tunnel for British comedy' (Mark Thomas). 'Genius' (Russell Howard). 'Absolutely captivating' (Scotsman).

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