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Elis James – Edinburgh Festival review

Saturday, August 11 2012

Quite possibly the best stand-up show at the Fringe this year comes from Elis James. Cancel stuff to see it


Elis James

Elis James has just nailed the show he's been threatening to produce for a few years. The Welshman's fourth solo show, Speaking As A Mother is the sight of a comic going from being very good to bloody brilliant. I love this bit in comic's evolution.

The most successful Welsh comic in recent years has been Rhod Gilbert, who trades on anger and frustration. James's stories are more whimsical affairs based on ineptitude, misunderstandings and mild social embarrassment. The pair appear together on a Radio Wales show hosted by Gilbert, who ought to be wary that the scruffy indie kid doesn't nip in and steal his crown in the next few years.

From the off, Speaking As A Mother is big on laughter, with an anecdote about a bad gig he had at last year's Fringe. It seems barely conceivable now. His next one is a case of mistaken identity on Twitter. We also get one about his attempts to smuggle a panty liner to his girlfriend and some about his parents' own sense of humour. The routines are almost without fail packed with funnies.

He's one of the most likeable and witty comics around, with serious comedy chops to boot. He has mastered the art of understatement and knows how to use his accent to extract the maximum laughter from a gag. I'm certain he deliberately cranks up the accent for the word "risotto".

The only only thing that prevents this being a truly 5-star show is a bit of a lull towards the end, and it doesn't quite have that "I was there" feel to it. But boy did the Baby Grand get buffeted with laughter.

It's pithy, light-hearted and charming, you could take your naive young cousin or your blind gran and they'd both leave happy. Basically if you don't like Elis James you're a c$$t.

The best stand-up show at the Fringe this year? The bar has been set …

4.5 stars

• Elis James – Speaking As A Monther is on at the Pleasance Courtyard at 7pm


Review written by Paul Fleckney

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