Edinburgh Fringe 2010
A fresh, laid-back and very funny take on why a lot of laws don’t work and an interactive opportunity to frame new ones about anything you choose.
Eric’s Tales of the Sea, based on his experiences on a nuclear submarine won much critical acclaim last year. It’s easy to see why – some people have good material and some have funny bones. Some, like Eric, have both. His style is naturally complicit and light and takes you in unexpected directions. This hour long set examines laws that work, some that don’t and some that should be on the statute book. He’s likeably blokey, with a nice intro – Lucy Lawless (Xena, Warrior Princess) who gives him the perfect excuse to leave up her picture alongside a dictionary definition of what lawless means – and for the ladies, a shirtless Jude Law. He gleefully operates his own slideshow with some delightfully naff powerpoints and in a touching moment opens up about why spellcheckers are a good thing for dyslexics – but how they could be better, by pointing out not the whole word but the bit that needs correcting.
Some of the material is familiar territory for many comedians – Christmas, McDonalds are examples – but Eric’s infectious delight in the unjust leads us to better, random territory from Hilda Ogden and Facebook to Dartford. He’s got a beard but isn’t judgemental about them, as they allow us to express our individuality – and then there’s comb-overs. This isn’t, in any way, a political rant – sometimes he’s genuinely bemused about things. The pictures that he’s found of pebble dashing and stone cladding are worth the price of admission and I’m not alone in signing up to ban them immediately. Moreover there are some truly astonishing stories from the Ministry of Defence which would make you chuckle, cringe and get cross all at once. Neither is it investigative journalism, but a lovely cock-eyed observation of why the law is sometimes a complete ass.
Eric’s staging leaves this somewhere between a discussion group, the traditional stand-up and Dave Gorman. In Just The Tonic’s dank surroundings, the peeling plaster and damp seem to fit well with Eric’s gentle prods at the law and how we interract with it. It isn’t new and it won’t change the world overnight, but it is home-made and he has an easy-going, if slightly haphazard relationship with his audience.
Top all this off with an opportunity to agree or disagree with any of the new laws that Eric proposes and then vote for them – and to include submissions of your own, so that when the e-petition goes back online, Eric can make this a better place for all of us. He’ll happily read out yesterday’s audience’s output – a loud cheer from the audience for a gagging order on Michael Macintyre gets a wry smile from Eric: but he’s not bitter – or savage. He’s quite gentle and thoughtful – and really very funny.