Stuart Goldsmith is a true scholar of comedy. As the host of the Comedian’s Comedian podcast he interviews comic performers the world over to discuss their material, where they get their ideas, the points behind their shows and everything else to do with their act. Although there is some time in the episodes for discussion on life, the focus does narrow in on the guests performance as a comedian. Being someone who thinks about comedy to that level has clearly paid off, as this is the best stand up show I’ve seen at the Fringe 2017.
He opens with a short story about him and his brother attending an escape game, which is perfectly funny, but is nothing compared to what he has in store for the rest of the hour. The remaining time is spent discussing his family much closer to home. In the past year he has gotten married, and despite the extraordinary happiness this brings him, it’s not without challenges… for his wife mainly. There’s loads in here for the audience to relate to, especially if you’ve ever hated the sound of your partner’s chewing and been annoyed at how they clamber into bed late at night. It’s sometimes the permanence of your new routine that can be most unsettling.
The other major change in his life is the introduction of a dictator, his new baby. Now he’s had to become the proper family man, exchanging knowing grunts of hello with other dads in the same position and occasionally resorting to screaming in the car. Often when comedians turn to material on family it can prove a little dull, but in this show it’s interesting and much darker than I had expected going in.
In fact, this is the best material on family that I’ve heard recently and is similar in tone to that of Louis CK in acknowledging that despite this being everything you’ve ever wanted and finally making you feel like the gaps in your sole are plugged, it’s also completely infuriating.
Where lots of comedians are happy to gain polite laughs from the audience, this show always goes for the big laugh. There were so many occasions where other performers would have left a bit quite satisfied with the giggle from the crowd, but that would not suffice for this performer, always going for more and invariably getting it. He also has a terrific ability to turn bits that seem like falling into some of the best moments of the show.
It’s well written, tied together with the theme of family, growing up and the pain it can bring you on the surface, but the moments deep down that keep you going. He gains huge laughs from every single section of the show and I can’t imagine the work he’s had to put in to get everything landing so perfectly. Numerous interviews conducted with funny people have clearly reminded him that the entire point of stand up comedy is to be very, very funny. This is the best Free Fringe show that I’ve ever seen and I guarantee you’ll want to throw him a lot more than a couple of quid after his bucket speech.