Erich McElroy's (US) Electile Dysfunction

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016


Emily Cole

at 09:06 on 7th Aug 2016



With his tan, bad hair, and lines like ‘a small loan of a million dollars’, Donald Trump has undoubtedly become an easy gag for the comedy world in recent months. When arriving to see ‘Erich McElroy’s Electile Dysfunction’ I assumed this would be one of many shows maximizing on the comedic gift that is Donald J. Trump. But I was pleasantly surprised by McElroy’s refreshing take on this somewhat overdone topic, taking this subject into a more endearing and personal sphere that left you with a feeling of consolation and hope about the situation in which we all find ourselves.

In this sell-out show, it became clear how popular this topic remains to be: a somewhat safe subject that guarantees a laugh. However, to place this expectation of ‘easy comedy’ upon McElroy’s performance would be greatly unfair and largely incorrect. What distinguishes this set from others I have seen was McElroy’s attention and interaction with the audience, being consciously aware of being an American comedian talking American politics to a British audience. McElroy strokes egos with the acknowledgement that Brits follow American politics because they enjoy turning their noses up at Americans, before bringing the audience down with the unspeakable ‘b-word’: Brexit. This assertion set the tone for the rest of the performance, dragging us all down to the same level and creating an odd sense of comedic community to face the discussion of our chaotic political climate.

Alongside this, the routine is more sincere and heartfelt than expected, relating to his own personal story of growing up in America and the past sixteen years living in the UK. It is easy to forget that this is stand-up, instead feeling more like talking to my American uncle and hearing his private experiences of politics - but a very funny uncle nonetheless. Like a special messenger sent over to explain what on earth is actually going on over the pond, McElroy is endearing, relatable and never let us forget our own political faults.

Inevitably, there are some predictable jokes made, which at times are a little disappointing but, overall, I felt this added to the amiable nature of McElroy: a non-egotistical voice of reason comically discussing narcissistic figures. A smooth flowing set teaming with essences of flamboyancy, sincerity and sharp wit leaving you with a hopeful beam on your face and desperately wanting more.


Ruby Gilding

at 09:59 on 7th Aug 2016



For those looking to understand the ludicrous events of America’s presidential campaign Erich McElroy’s comedy take is reassuringly level-headed. Having spent sixteen years in the UK McElroy’s reading of his homeland’s politics was especially attentive towards his British audience. It is likely that potential viewers would be put off by the show’s political pitch, but with faultless analogies McElroy made his jokes accessible to the festival attendees. Erich McElory is not new to topical comedy, and appears to have made a space for himself at the fringe after presenting the only NO show prior to the Scottish Referendum. This performance of Electile Dysfunction was sold out, and when there is such outlandish material to work with the likelihood of comedic gems doesn’t come as a surprise.

It was a relief that the hour wasn’t opened with the elephant in the room: Donald Trump. Instead, McElroy’s autobiographical style took us back to the Iraq wars with an attention to detail that substantiated the humour rather than making it drag. The overall tone was of light-hearted comedy was complemented by his self-depreciating delivery. In the past decade political comedy has been transformed by the pace of social networks, as such it was difficult to imagine how McElroy could produce original material on a topic that has already been picked apart. The familiar jokes about rivalries between American and British culture were inevitable, but when faced with crude humour about paedophilia in the Catholic church it was clear that McElroy was capable of doing better. His talent lies in an undervalued ability to creatively think on his feet. For instance the best laugh of the show occurring when a late comer to the full venue prompted the retort “I don’t want to eject anyone, but just imagine this is America and you’re from Mexico”.

In between the gags Electile Dysfunction has insightful moments which pull you up short, for example when he pithily shows the fractionalisation of media as the root of the shock recently felt by many in response to Brexit. Although politicians have always been easy targets for comedians (even making competition for Canadians in this show) it was refreshing to see that the seriousness of the material was recognised. This makes for stand up that is uplifting in baffling times.

A surprisingly poignant appeal at the end to “not shout about our political beliefs” marks an ideal turn away from the familiar jokes which bolstered the routine, and showcase his mix of humour and sincerity.


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