The Bill Murray, Highbury and Islington, London, 06/10/2019.
Ross Smith can’t remember the last time he cried and isn’t sure whether he’s even able to anymore, so yes, this is one of those full length shows which has an emotional element in it, but for once it feels deserved and isn’t thrown in it at the end just to add some flimsy depth to the set. Indeed this is an hour of comedy that’s been skilfully put together and it flows from one aspect of his story to the next with remarkable ease.
It’s also a show which is packed with gags, and very funny ones at that. After having seen a fair bit of “Experimental comedy” recently, much of which was great but some of which was really weak, it’s a pleasant relief to see something which is filled with strong jokes, and well thought out ones at that, which is perhaps why it’s no surprise that he was featured twice in the same “Best Jokes of the Fringe” list that Dave (the tv channel) compiled.
Apart from the idea that Smith is concerned by the fact that he rarely cries, a large element of the show is about how he recently split up with his girlfriend by ghosting her, which he knows might set the audience against him and so tries to argue that it’s a better way of ending a relationship than telling someone to their face it’s over. It’s not a convincing argument but it is one which he makes amusing, and it lets us know that Smith feels at least a little guilty about his actions. It’s the only time I was at odds with what he was saying as well, as he then discusses his relationship with his parents, and how he worries about his mental health.
The joke which made no.5 on Dave’s best of the Fringe list – “A thesaurus is great. There’s no other word for it” – is particularly strong and definitely deserves it’s place on the list but it’s not even the best within Smith’s set, he has some really great material on his Grandmother’s habit of only saying half of famous sayings, while his take on “The Boy Who Called Wolf” is a very funny one. And as mentioned, the emotional bit at the end doesn’t feel forced and ties in with the theme of the hour too, and best of all is only a small part of the show and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.
As with nearly every hour of stand up not everything hits home, and the odd joke is misjudged like a part where he discusses “dirty talk” and how in certain accents it just doesn’t work, it’s trite and uses lazy stereotypes, especially when it comes to Scottish and English voices. But it’s only a minor misstep in a set which is normally very very funny, Smith has only been performing for four years and so it’s impressive indeed that he’s already created such a great hour, and on the basis of this I can’t wait to see what he does next.