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Edinburgh Festival review – Jeff Leach

Tuesday, August 09 2011

A surprisingly endearing show from the self-proclaimed 'wild man of comedy'

Jeff Leach

Combining the sexual charisma and debauched backstory of Russell Brand with the sense of entitlement and undercutting self-awareness of Jack Whitehall, it’s a pity for Jeff Leach his precursors are so high-profile, because he’s a capable storyteller who’s landed himself in a succession of scrapes.

Strapping and heavily tattooed, the self-proclaimed “wildman of comedy” begins by kicking over his mic stand then apologetically picking it up afterwards. For all the drug-induced nirvana or sexual ecstasy he goes on to relate, there’s always the sense of a little boy lost, of the confused 11-year-old Leech with his predatory teacher, of the kinky teenager who hoarded bras and panties as trophies.

One doesn’t tend to realise how much modesty and restraint are such quintessential British personality traits until you see a performer like him, graphically miming the first time he took his girlfriend to orgasm.

Even here, the sense of boastfulness is tempered by his initial obliviousness to the situation, just as the claim he developed an enormous penis in puberty sets up how he was a target of ridiculous physical abuse.

Endearingly, although he’s conscious of how fortunate or stupid he’s been, Leach offers only the most sporadic blurts of gratitude or remorse. He prefers not to draw any worthy lessons and instead simply presents these episodes as formative for his personality.

There’s no great depth or meaning attached to the story of how he waddled through London’s transport system after his first proper drugs bender, trousers bulging with his own faeces. But he conveys such anecdotes with unsparing, attractive honesty.

3 stars

Jeff Leach – A Leach On Society is on at 11pm at the Pleasance Courtyard.

Review written by Jay Richardson


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