Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Jordan Brookes pitches up The Fringe with no tricks, no gimmicks, no plan, simply offering an hour in his company before the end comes. It is one last attempt to connect before any remaining joy is snuffed out.
Jordan Brookes has been on the ‘To review’ list since a couple of comics suggested him as a comedian to see. Although he’s been on the circuit for some time I had no idea what type of comedian he was. This was a leap into the unknown, which is the best way to approach a Jordan Brookes show.
The room fills with sound and light, it’s a sensory assault. Given the younger and more ‘relaxed’ Friday night crowd, it works to build the atmosphere.
It is fair to say Jordan’s style is unique. He enters the space shoe-less, in blue shorts and a cotton top. His appearance is striking, tall, thin, pale and hairless. He moves with frenetic energy, fast and jerky. Throughout the course of the show there was not an inch of the stage area left uncovered, he visited the aisles, the technical booth and even the audience seating. He tells us he won’t bother with a microphone. It wasn’t needed and would only have served to tie him down to a single spot.
To those of us who haven’t seen Mr Brookes before, he seems intimidating. The opening appears random and unconnected. He talks and interacts with the crowd, before reassuring them he won’t pick on them. However, in nature he is far from threatening often the opposite, kind, solicitous and everything tinged with humour.
After about 10 mins I made note, ‘I’m not getting this’, two minutes later something clicked I my mind and I started to enjoy it. He turns the show into an experience.
Several things stand out about Jordan, he is a clown, a trickster. He leads you up and down the garden path. He plays with the audience. There are random and strange interactions, disconnected elements intermingled with philosophy, insightfulness and heart served in a maelstrom of chaos.
Jordan is not only the creator of chaos, he deals well with the unexpected. For example, when one audience member was so ‘relaxed’ he nodded off or when another got up and said ‘I thought you were going to do more about the planes’ before walking out. If that was a spoiler, my apologies. Judging from Jordan’s peals of laughter, I think not. The point that you would consider such action might be part of the show, gives an indication of what we are seeing.
He tricks everyone, more than once, going as far as to sit with his tech support and start playing with cues and lighting. This seemed new to them too. There were several points during the show where I looked over at the booth and they were rocking with laughter.
There are some well scripted sections, good jokes, word play and all-round cleverness. There is also a very dark undercurrent underpinning this work. It catches you unawares, not an uncommon theme with comics and clowns.
He moves almost constantly, dancing, cavorting, using physical theatre to deliver his comedy. His face is open and expressive almost childlike. Gestures, and glances convey meaning and jokes but if you look away you may miss them.
Very unusually he did pick on one audience member, repeatedly. It was a show reviewer, in fact it was this reviewer. Whilst I’ve been picked on by a comic as an audience member, this was the first time it has happened when reviewing a show. It certainly lent a new dimension to the experience. He was kind, and gentle with his joshing. I never felt threatened, exposed or ridiculed. Hopefully it doesn’t unduly colour the review.
At one stage, he asked me to include a sketch of one scene in the show. It seems fair, here it is.
Jordan is a clever clown, his show is different. There are dark moments, it is unexpected. For a newbie it takes a while to ‘get it’. It’s silly, serious, clever, tricky, energetic, frenetic and a visual treat. He is a jester and a clown. This is recommended.