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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Patrick Draper: Absolutely Vacuous

Patrick Draper

Genre: Comedy, Stand-Up

Venue: Southsider (Venue 148)


Low Down

“Draper’s head is a vacuous expanse filled with ridiculous stories. Watch him sift through them like a fox rifling through a bin: misery; planetary alignment; things. Gloriously dry stand up from a rising star on the circuit.”


You can pay fifteen quid to see a top-billing stand-up, or you can stick a fiver in a bucket and see something equally as good in the Free Fringe. Patrick Draper has chosen a decent venue for stand-up in the room at the back of the Southsider. Comfy, cushioned church pews and lighting that doesn’t look like it has just been switched on in an emergency make it all a lot easier than a dripping cave somewhere under medicalised L.E.D lights. Shit, this is real lamp-lit stand-up.

The man spins metaphors like plates but isn’t afraid to cook up a sudden, hilarious nob gag. This was under an hour of understated variety comedy that made use of clever and surprising visual aids that blended geographical statistical science with deciding who in the UK is a twat. I, clearly, am a twat.

This is a very well crafted show from a man who is deadpan yet friendly. We get a bit of autobiography that many in the audience related to, a couple of songs in a show that is divided into three sections with time allowed for us to check in on our vacuous smartphone-infested social media. The comedy material is consistently funny and Draper’s fairly dark take on the world is delivered with a deceptive lightness. He throws out cynicism and we willingly catch it, offering a smile or a giggle in return. It’s clever material, occasionally feeling a little bit recited. But it is never less than funny for the stick it pokes at our vacuous society. It’s all offered in an unfussy, direct way. It’s about the material, the stories and the gags, with a few visual aids and a guitar solo thrown in for free.

There’s a bit of audience banter (and there’s scope for more of that – he’s very good at it despite claiming to be shy) and Draper can improvise. He had the audience in fits of laughter, not only at his scripted material but also his asides and responses to a few call-outs. Draper’s main comedy punch lies in gags that are statements that begin seemingly innocently, and then rollercoaster quickly to a killer-funny, often cruel and dark, ending. You don’t see his endings coming and that surprise is a big part of his comedy talent.

He’s relaxed and we are definitely in his company for this show. Occasionally he strays into comedy cruelty but dead grandparents and the proverbial C-word are tired tricks these days to try to get us to sit up and they aren’t needed in this show. His comedy is better when it’s more subtle, and this man knows how to mine the dark corners of Life for comedy value. He makes his observations and we get them, appreciating the classic funniness of laughing at ourselves.

With a bit of thrash metal karaoke thrown in, Patrick Draper’s mock-shy manner had us all on his side throughout. It’s a gem of a show in the Free Fringe.