The Taproom, Islington, London, 05/07/2019.
Jordan Brookes is one of my favourite new comedians around at the moment, I’ve caught him doing twenty minutes on mixed bills a few times now and each time he’s easily been the best act of the night. His show on the stand up streaming service NextUp, The Making Of, is also a fantastic piece of comedy and one of the best things on there, while the two other hours I’ve witnessed, Body Of Work and Bleed both impressed a great deal.
In a review of the latter I described it as containing “the kind of comedy fuckery that reminded me of Chris Morris, which is about the highest praise I could ever give anyone”, and the reason I compared him to Chris Morris was because of a device that Brookes used in the show where he got every one in the audience to wear headphones, and while he was performing sometimes audio played over the top of it revealing his thoughts about various subjects, with it being suggested that different people were hearing different things, which was darkly hilarious stuff and which impressed me a great deal.
This latest hour is free of any such devices though, it’s stripped back stand up and his most accessible hour yet, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s his best hour. Perhaps this is unfair but after Bleed I had such high expectations to then see him doing something akin to normal stand up came as a surprise, and a slight disappointment, even though the title suggested it would be a simpler affair. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bloody good and Brookes is one of the finest comedians to have emerged on to the circuit over the past few years, it’s just not quite as interesting as I’d hoped.
I don’t want to suggest that he’s become in any way a Michael McIntyre-esque comedian, this is still stand up which is partially unconventional, what with the way Brookes kicks off the show by pretending he’s dancing with someone in a club and desperate to get her name, while afterwards he toys with the audience, claiming that he hasn’t got anything prepared. That’s an obvious lie of course, as he then launches in to an hour of pretty damn strong comedy, during which he gives us his thoughts about how he’d respond to the apocalypse, how we’ve fucked up and are part of the end of the world as we speak, what it’s like to be a child of divorce, and a large element of the show is his musing over what might happen if in some unusual scenario he was forced to seduce his mother.
Even though this was an Edinburgh preview and a work in progress it felt fully formed, with Brookes not referring to notes or stopping at any point to gather his thoughts, I don’t know how much it will change between now and the beginning of the festival but I’d be surprised if it differed that much. As it is it’s an hour of comedy that I enjoyed a great deal, and which made me laugh hard throughout and it’s a four star show, which for most comedians would be something to be proud of. But given his past work I just can’t help but wish it had been a little more inventive and unpredictable, if you’re new to him you may well love it and think I’m an idiot for being disappointed, but anyone who has seen his previous work may possibly feel the same way.