Wil Hodgson (3 stars)

This article is from 2007.

Will Hodgson

Ex-wrestler grapples with mainly excellent material

Profiles don’t come much more distinctive than Wil Hodgson’s. With a meticulous pink Mohawk, kohl-rimmed eyes and camp/punk cargo trousers, he looks like a Viking berserker crossed with a highlighter pen. To add to this fairly splendid confusion of expectations, his fiercely enthusiastic, generally philanthropic set is delivered not in a Rottenesque London snarl but a liquid West Country burr.

Diving into the theme of appearance-versus-reality naturally suggested by his looks, Hodgson takes the small but stentorian preview audience on an Iliad of life-affirming preposterousness. He is not ashamed of his My Little Pony collection. He prefers real women to the airbrushed simulacra spanning the centrefolds of lad mags. He loves bad food and has the paunch to prove it, but in his difficult and tragi-comic youth (the show’s main thrust) he was thin and weak, defenceless against jocks and elder punks.

Hodgson’s enthusiasm is beguiling, and is backed by a keen observational nose. At his best when forcing himself to be concise, packing up the essence of a bit in a funny, satisfying, thought-provoking epigram, he brings his obvious intelligence to bear in most of his material, but sadly not all. Some segments fall just short of the pitch of surrealism promised by their own premises, others spend too much time on jokeless conversational set-ups.

Driven by the same polarising impulse as many circuit comedians (which seems to limit stage persona options to a) boundlessly genial best-mate-you-never-had; or b) borderline sociopathic doomsayer), Hodgson opts for the former. You can’t help feeling that his true character lies in the middle: a basically optimistic lad pushed to spells of darkness by chance and genetics. It’s difficult to imagine Wil Hodgson ever falling completely flat, however; his combination of vibrancy and smarts are likely to see him improve rather than deteriorate.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 27 Aug (not 13), 10.40pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8–£9).

Wil Hodgson

  • 3 stars

He's coming 'Straight Outta Chippenham' and smashing stereotypes along the way, a curious mixture of the genial and irritated that combine for an entertaining hour. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007'

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