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Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Joke Box (Julian Lee)

Julian Lee

Genre: Comedic, Comedy, Solo Performance, Solo Show

Venue: The Three Broomsticks


Low Down

“Lee is a recovering compulsive gambler. He took up stand-up during the early days of his recovery. He also changed careers and now teaches SEN pupils. He missed the 2016 Fringe due to a serious heart condition. His true life story will inspire you. And he’s chosen to do one-liners and puns for his debut “


Unlike dead-pan one-liner comedians, Julian Lee is a personable chap, a maths teacher is his day job, and there’s an infectious enthusiasm about this performer from the word ‘go’. He’s more blokey than arty.

Now the word ‘go’ in this show is about waiting respectfully for a few late-comers to take their seats. This is a friendly man who wants (and gets) the audience on his side even as they clamber up the stairs and look intovarius small rooms called Fringe performance spaces. He starts, and the opening gag is a strong one and those even later-comers have missed it. This sets off a friendly, non-humiliating banter that laces the show with a human touch.

There’s a humbleness to the man, who is not only performing pitch perfect gags but trying out his material on the audience as well . These are jokes Lee has written himself and, as with any performance that packs ’em in to an hour, they are hit and miss. Overall, they are mostly hit, and the show average is somewhere in the top quartile. This is a funny show and Lee is a funny man. He’s created an hour of variety. Sometimes we get to choose the jokes, there is unfussy spoken comedy, but also a slide show of (mostly) funny images. I particularly liked the jokes that Lee had devised that he informed us no one liked but him. Well, I liked them. Clever word play, sharp observation, near the knuckle vingettes, puns aplenty, cheeky asides, confident performance, easily created rapport, yet also a sense of a humility that comes from A4 rather than 6 foot posters out there in the grey and the rain.

The gags range widely, often in Tim Vine style, the groans are often at the  many shoe-horned-in puns but they nearly all work. The audience enjoyed Lee’s accessible stlye, a Geordie, unashamedly stepping into stand-up comedy and sharing his relish at doing this Fringe comedy thing with the rest of us.

The beer glass comes out at the end, and I noticed notes of at least a blue colour being squashed into it. Lee is an amiable host, with a clever mind – a smart comedian who knows how to hold your smiling, sniggering, groaning and clapping at the wit for just under an hour. They are selling thirty quid wands in the Harry Potter shop next door. I’ll settle for a fivers’-worth  in the company of Julian Lee. Recommended.