Sam Russell: Privileged to be Here
- Deborah Chu
- 16 August 2019
This article is from 2019
An examination of privilege that could do with some more laughs
Straight white male comics discussing their straight white male privilege is not exactly a rare breed at the Fringe these days. Continuing on this proud tradition, Sam Russell starts the show by contemplating just how good he's got it: he recently got married to a corporate lawyer and gets to do comedy for a living, so all is well. But then one day he had a brush with death, and suddenly the title of his planned Fringe performance took on a double meaning for him.
Unfortunately, this promised nuance doesn't quite materialise, which is a shame as Russell is a genuinely funny comic. A gag about his wife coming home in a drunken state and tearing their flat apart gets plenty of laughs, and his opening chat with the audience is full of easy back-and-forth. The meat of his show, however, leans more towards Ted Talk than comedy hour; when he starts examining his privilege and bemoaning how polarised our politics has become, the space between laughs begins to elongate.
This isn't to say that such self-reflection can't be a funny experience, and Russell is clearly very well-meaning. But regrettably he's unable to pull out anything particularly revelatory about how wacky religion is, or social media's role in the degradation of our political discourse. Instead the audience is simply left wondering when the punchlines will resume.
Just the Tonic at The Mash House, until 25 Aug, 7.45pm, £8 in advance or donations at the venue.