Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Frenchy is clearly a sensation on the internet. It led to him being axed as a teacher in his native land and to be fair to the education authorities, you can understand why. With dubious jokes involving sex with family members, a whole routine to Let It Go that lives long in the memory and an anarchic delivery this manages to take you to places you didn’t know you didn’t want to go, this is a great hour.
Frenchy does appear to be like some mad professor that has been caught doing the wrong thing in cupboards as he appears to entertain us onstage. This is a long look and run round the world of an internet sensation who has fans that have travelled to see him; some even from New Zealand! It takes in a lot of stops on the way and some of them are hilarious, some less so but overall it’s a decent hour in his childlike company.
The material is late night fare and has some interesting observations on his life that are both entertaining and funny – which is just as well. The aforementioned routines do tend to test how far you are willing to go but in the age in which we live they could be claimed to be quite tame in comparison with others.
The problem with this type of humour, I think, is that it appeals to the more infantile and that infantility grows up, leaving the comedian floundering after a few brief years of fame and notoriety. Frenchy claims to have a child’s brain in his adult head and you can see how that affects his world view – it’s a bit more than funny, so I think he might be fine.
The songs he uses are of the same type of material but there is a soulfulness to some of it and this is perhaps the greatest strength within the show. Performing in front of his own crowd there are things a comic can get away with and running gags that get responses because of their familiarity but songs can feel nakedly sung and need a better stage presence at times to get them across. Frenchy has bags of stage presence and great timing and delivery. His style has been honed and you feel part of the anarchic humour and style he evolves during the show.
The use of music and background is good and when it goes wrong even better. The best is when he genuinely realises that it is not Sunday but Monday. It shows us a rawness that works for me because it is genuinely funny – his reaction if it is genuine takes the show onto a new level – I just realised that the best bit was not rehearsed…
That glimpse convinced me that Frenchy is a natural gift to the world, even if the world may be in shock for what it is about to receive.