Stand Up Sat Down

Mon 19th – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Jack Graham

at 13:16 on 23rd Aug 2013

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Doing a set of stand up comedy is an unenviable task, and it takes a bold student to give it a go at the Edinburgh Fringe. Unfortunately, Matt Gibson’s jokes were too obvious, and his delivery was not good enough to make the show funny.

A languages student at St Andrews University, Gibson’s comedy was observational, beginning with listing various strange foreign words and explaining their meanings. Though they were slightly humorous, their oddity was insufficient to get much laughter from the audience.

A lack of truly funny content carried on through the set as he talked about things like the awkwardness of passing people in the street, and questioning why there are lollipops in the toilets of nightclubs. Observational comedy at its best makes us laugh at funny things that we don’t fully pick up on in normal life, but a lot of his observations were either too ordinary or not particularly humorous.

He also made the mistake of frequently falling back on stereotypes that are unoriginal, and arguably were not particularly funny in the first place. For example, his rap about middle classes at university listed every posh cliché in the world in a very unsubtle and unexciting way, including things like the standard ‘gap yah’ reference.

With his content focussing on the mundane, delivery was crucial to provide the humour. It must be said that people did laugh at some points, and little material fell completely flat. However, the big laughs never came. He didn’t properly build up to big punchlines, nor did he use silences to draw laughs from the audience. Also, Gibson’s relaxed tone was in danger of becoming slightly monotonous, and he made very few facial expressions which could have enhanced his jokes.

To his credit, though, Gibson is a likeable character. His self-deprecating manner was particularly endearing as he joked about his failures with women and being rejected by Cambridge. He was also sharp at picking up on audience reactions which added to his charm. Personality seems to come across very strongly in stand up, and with better content and delivery his self-deprecatory humour could be effective.

Supporting Gibson was Ollie Leonard, who gave a quick-fire set at the beginning. Though many of his lines were fairly unoriginal and the punchlines often inevitable, some of the material was quite funny and his timing was good. The pick was his election horse-racing commentary between the Tories, Lib Dems, the economy, the welfare state and UKIP, etc. The jokes were fairly predictable – such as the injured economy – but it was delivered well and provided a welcome change in pace from his earlier gags. In a similar way to Gibson, though, his face was largely expressionless which took something away from his jokes.

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Evy Cavalla

at 14:22 on 23rd Aug 2013

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Matt Gibson’s opener, Olly Lennard, is great. He starts off with a couple of predictable jokes about Newcastle, but his relaxed manner sets the audience at ease. He executes a pretty demanding ‘horse-race’ joke – requiring a lot of jumping and shouting - but his stage presence was more than up to it and he pulls it off with panache.

Gibson himself gives a mixed bag of jokes and a couple of lacklustre songs. He opened with a section on weird words in foreign languages, which was more giggle-inducing than side-splitting. He is likeable and watchable but sadly not hilarious: the observational humour falls squarely into the category of ‘things we have all already observed ourselves’ and swerves into ‘horrendously overdone’ when he performs his ‘middle class rap’ about how students at St. Andrew’s shop at Waitrose and are – wait for it – Tory.

There’s nothing particularly original here: rants about the use of the word ‘literally’ and Justin Bieber could be taken off a Buzzfeed of ‘stock 21st century annoyances’, and his delivery does little to milk the laughs he needs out of the audience. Perfectly adequate punch-lines are lingered on a little too long and reiterated or followed by padding, which loses impact. If delivery were quicker, and he played on his likeability rather than a forced cynicism, the show would be a lot slicker.

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References to race, including a story about a guy called Chin Key and unflattering anecdotes about his Asian mum, are supposed to be okay because he’s Asian but are in fact boring and vaguely offensive. Stories about his ex-girlfriend are also pretty unpleasant to women, but their impact is tempered by the fact that they are hackneyed and patently untrue.

This is not subversive humour: it’s a fairly inexperienced comic performing to mainly his mates. The best moment was when Gibson put on a silly hat and talked about it, followed by when he pretended to be a girl dancing in a club. These bits really did make me laugh, and suggest that Gibson’s humour is perfectly suited to make him your funniest mate, but not quite up to saying funny things on stage for an hour.

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