Review – Rich Fulcher's Guide to the US Elections

Thursday, April 26 2012

Funnier than Luxury Comedy, at the least

Rich Fulcher

As a one-time inhabitant of the good ol' U S of A, I have always had a lot of respect for Americans who brave the comedy circuit in rainy little England. Three years ago, rocking up in the Big Apple, armed only with my cut glass accent and rapier sharp wit, I spent most of my waking hours either trying to convince people that I hadn't meant to insult them, or that I had. To say the humour doesn't translate is putting it mildly. Unlike my reception into most of Manhattan's social circles.

The idea of a comedy show charting the US elections was therefore not one I had terrifically high hopes for. That it was fronted by Rich 'Bob Fossil' Fulcher did little to quell this trepidation. Much as I love the Mighty Boosh and all its delinquent capering, it's not the easiest show by which to gauge a performer's capabilities – as Channel 4 may have learned to their peril, letting Noel Fielding loose with solo flop Luxury Comedy.

As Fossil, Fulcher was a grotesque character whose off-the-wall humour was often more weird than wonderful. What would he be like onstage? I had premonitions of gratuitous nudity and nervous laughter (my fear is not unfounded: I refer you to his image on this very website). Even worse, I'd brought a guest along, AND they were visiting the UK for the first time. Was this the worst idea I had ever had?

Well, in the end I needn't have worried. The man's no looker, that's for sure – but he's a terrific performer. And his shirt stayed on. He gave a deadpan rundown of the pantomime that is the Republican candidate race, aided by a trusty sidekick (mostly silent) and a projector screen for some images and video clips. The sheer bizarreness of much of the footage and the stories that crop up in the elections make Fulcher look positively normal. From Mitt Romney as Canine Enemy no.1 to Ron Paul's apparent endorsement of cocaine, the night threw up some seriously peculiar anecdotes. Funny and true. Not so funny any more.

The pace sagged a little in the second section – a panel discussion with two guests, writer Hadley Freeman and Tony Law (more Americans! Well, an American and a Canadian. Same difference. Seriously, what was I thinking?!). I love both on their own, but the combined conversation was a dip after the quick fire clip-quip-skit style of the first half. Maybe I just missed the visual aids – my time in America also taught me that I have ADD. Probably.

Fulcher's Guide to the US Elections has ended now, and with it, any hope of explaining why the Republicans do the crazy shit that they do. But Fulcher himself still goes strong on the circuit. Knowing now, as I do, that he is not simply a freak, but a politically astute and beguilingly humourful freak, I'll definitely brave the threat of possible shirt removal in my quest to see him perform live again.

4 stars

Review written by Sarah Sharp


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