Five thoughts about...Alfie Brown: The Revolting Youth
Andrew Mickel3 August 2013
We got to five thoughts and stopped because we frankly could have been here all day...
The hair is up at a rakish angle. There’s the start of a metalhead beard going on. There’s loads of on-stage confidence - occasionally veering into braggartry - and more than one section broadly seeking to talk about ‘my generation’. It looks like there’s some voice-of-a-generation mantle-seeking on the go here - and there’s some glimpses of the politics that it is supposed to go with.
While the bits of more regular stand-up that come inbetween the political and social views - some audience (and critic) interaction, tales of dildo loss and Facebook chat - are all well and good, it is the highly eloquent social and political commentary we’re here for. When it does pop up, you’re rarely talking about your typical out-of-the-box ideology, but all sorts of stray ideas and thoughts, normally around how people interact with the state and with each other. Coming in such a fragmentary, unfamiliar form means it can be hard to tell if you’re looking at ill-thought out student politics or some innovative thought that is a tad raw and unformed. (The answer to most questions like this is: it’s probably both.) What you sort of want is a grand narrative to be thrown on to the whole thing to give you an intellectual foothold on what you’re watching, although that would probably defeat the entire object.
Amid the building blocks of ideas there’s some great jokes on bankers’ bonuses that gets to an impassioned and valid point about redistribution. It’s the fragmentary sort of thought that I know I want to see a lot more of, and I don’t think I’m in Political Wonk Corner on this one - it was some of the best-received material of the night. That being said, off-hand jokes about how it would be great to have good dictators are either (a), the first step on the road to becoming comedy’s Frank Turner, or hopefully the more probable (b), done with ironic intent that just doesn’t sit almightily comfortably next to the heartfelt soapbox moments that make you want to get on a chair and cheer.
If not throwing an entire ideology on to it, it would be good if there was a little more consistency. Why is it okay to make a joke impression of a stereotypical rich banker before making jokes about how you don’t actually, really have a problem with people who happen to be rich? The passion is here but the intellectual rigorousness hasn’t quite landed yet.
The end result of that is that we really want to lock Brown in a library, or force him to hang out with the more political comedians, or find some way to reinforce the intellectual underpinnings of the work. This is a slightly frustrating review to write as Brown’s been carrying a ‘political comedian in development’ sort of tag for a while, but...that’s still how he appeared tonight. Still, with a little more cooking, those political spots could coalesce together into something grandly coherent.
Alfie Brown: The Revolting Youth is at the Underbelly Cowgate at 9.10pm throughout August. You can read our interview with Alife here.
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