Jon Pearson: Tall Order

Thu 13th – Mon 17th August 2015

reviews

Melanie Beckerleg

at 11:29 on 18th Aug 2015

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Faced with an audience of just four people, Jon Pearson nonetheless made a valiant effort to deliver an entertaining stand-up routine; the result was a passable Free Fringe event, but there was neither the atmosphere nor the material to carry off any real laughs.

A stand-up comedian hailing from Sutton, in Ashfield, Pearson confessed that his act was a rather last minute affair to fill a venue - and it shows. The fact that he started his act apologising for its being a "work in progress" was the first of the warning signs.

In what is possibly one of the most difficult to locate venues at the Fringe, Pearson delivered a routine consisting for the most part of vaguely amusing anecdotes about friends and family (when your best friend is a taxidermist, that pretty much says it all really). On the whole, despite an engaging opening, his stories felt tired, lacking either originality or punchlines. At the same time, his central theme – the woes off a life spent ‘overgrown’ – was underdeveloped and the mileage he did make of it mostly fell flat.

To his credit, Pearson is a very likeable performer and he did well to set a small audience at their ease. His self-effacing manner added, by and large, to the friendly tone of his routine, although there’s no escaping the fact that there is a finite amount of amusement to be derived from 30-something year olds moaning about their girlfriends.

Much too can be blamed on the size of the audience – it’s admittedly pretty uncomfortable talking in any detail about sexual exploits in a room with only five people in it. However it cannot be denied that there were inherent weakness to certain aspects of his routine – particularly the occasional long, pointless stories, where he seemed almost to have forgotten he was supposed to be delivering a stand-up comedy.

Worst of all though, the jokes ran out just about half way through the act, and Pearson proceeded to fill the remaining time with tangential rambling. Moreover, his subsequent over-reliance on audience contribution, really failed to add anything to the experience.

For a free event, it certainly wasn’t a painful experience. That said, there are definitely better and funnier ways to pass forty five minutes at the Fringe.

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Luke Howarth

at 16:29 on 18th Aug 2015

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In a bright and sparsely populated George Next Door, Jon Pearson talks about being big. The atmosphere is dreadful but the intimacy of the venue suits Pearson; he is likeable, his storytelling relaxed and unaffected, offering a nostalgic anecdote before returning to lean on the microphone stand with a wry smile. He isn’t trying to outwit us - we know that we’re less likely to be victims of the show than he is. The allusions don’t reach further than Tom Cruise films or Shetland Ponies.

If Tall Order is a show about the tribulations of being oversized, its irony is a conspicuous paucity of material. At the outset, Pearson admits that the set is a work in progress, and there is much to suggest that his observations might have been buoyed by a louder and more raucous audience than an awkward foursome, but the propensity for humour frequently wore thin, and the forty-five minutes of the show passed tediously. Pearson himself was visibly surprised that the time had gone so slowly.

The subject matter is entirely personal, but Pearson’s introspection seldom feels narcissistic. Usually, it feels like a cliché. Sex is sometimes difficult; personal trainers are unempathetic; girlfriends don’t get on with best friends. When an anecdote about careers advice ends up as a plot for a typical Hollywood blockbuster, the potential for self-reference is palpable; the story is one we have heard before. There is a recognisable template for almost every experience. Moments of originality – taxidermy for humans, or the decline of bread – provide welcome relief from a set littered with tired jokes and old ideas.

Pearson’s apparent ease onstage is a mixed blessing. His relaxed manner results in a routine that is too obviously improvised; he ambles slightly too comfortably through the peculiarities of “carrying a lot of weight”, and a punchline frequently feels more like a coincidence than a destination. Inevitably, the audience were invited to contribute to the set, which resulted in several pleasant conversations, but few laughs. Among many talented performers at this year’s Free Fringe, Jon Pearson and his show Tall Order is unlikely to stand out as a comedic highlight.

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