Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Appearances can be quite deceptive. Chris Addison looks about 23 and like he’s just graduated with a degree in smart-arsed comments from a leading metropolitan university. Perfect, you would think, for the role as the sneering special advisor that he plays in the BBC iconic comedy, “The Thick of It”. In fact, he is approaching his fifth decade and has a fast growing reputation as one of the most intellectual thinkers on the comedy circuit. And a stage and an audience is all he needs to let rip in an hour of thought-provoking, frenzied, storytelling.
Chris Addison’s limbs remind you of four very badly synchronized windmills. So it’s something of a surprise that he managed to remain in the vertical plane for his hour long discourse at the packed Assembly Ball Room. Even more so since he limped on stage with a pair of crutches.
Movement of one of those limbs has been, at least temporarily, restrained due to an unfortunate accident resulting from the decision to try and leap down the stairs of his rented flat eight at a time, rather than singly as most people with a bit of common sense would do.
But that’s the thing about intelligence and common sense isn’t it – there’s a curious inverse relationship. And, make no mistake about it, Chris Addison is high up in the intelligence stakes, which perhaps explains his visit to the local casualty unit just hours before his opening night.
It all makes for an amusing introduction to a zany hour of comedy delivered at what can only be described as a frenetic pace, with boundless energy and a surprising amount of leaping (OK, hopping) around for a man who twanged a few ankle ligaments not a few hours previously.
Addison’s theme (if that’s not giving it too grandiose a title) for his return to the Fringe after a five year sabbatical is the middle classes and their foibles. This is a well-trodden and relatively safe path for someone that could be described as one of the more cerebral raconteurs on the circuit but he accomplishes the difficult task of avoiding cliché and social stereotyping in favour of acute social observation.
So it is that golf clubs, religion, the Pope, Marks & Spencer’s, Waitrose and a range of other bastions of middle class life come in for some well delivered satire and irony. He does a nice line in self-deprecation as well, always a sure bet for a laugh with the relatively well-heeled and plays well to his clear ability to deliver a comic line and his clear inability to move any two of his limbs in same direction at the same time. He also enjoys slipping in and out of some quite outrageous caricatures and, as a self-declared non-alpha male, is clearly in touch with his feminine side, in the nicest possible sense.
He’s apt to find some of the things he is coming out with funnier than some of his audience but, for all the tangential divergences, it’s a well scripted and delivered hour in which the middle classes get yet another chance to see themselves in the mirror of life.