David Elms: Nurture Boy (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

David Elms: Nurture Boy

Winning combination of linguistic sharpness and charming meta-silliness

David Elms is no ordinary comedian. His hesitant, sibilant, almost whispered delivery initially suggests a performer unsure of himself. But as this impressive debut show makes clear, he knows exactly what he’s doing. A musical comedian being interrupted by his mischievous partner is one of the hoariest double-act standbys. Elms subverts it beautifully by performing it solo. After claiming he's about to get married, he proceeds to deliver a clever, funny set of acoustic balladry pastiches. A particular highlight is his knowingly contrived love song based on the phonetic alphabet.

However, in a delightfully Andy Kaufman-esque twist, he repeatedly ‘breaks character’ to reveal his supposedly real self, namely a sensitive, needy, heartbroken German with little in the way of affection for his ‘David Elms’ creation. That this unexpected supporting character gradually builds a back-story riddled with ridiculous pathos is Elms’ inspired trump card.

His ability to involve the audience in such carefully crafted yet occasionally ad-libbed flights of nonsense is the mark of a born performer. Elms’ winning combination of linguistic sharpness and charming meta-silliness – his ‘convoluted character comedy’, as he calls it – singles him out as one to watch. An oddball original.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug (not 11), 4.45pm, £7.50--£9.50 (£6.50--£8.50).

David Elms: Nurture Boy

  • 4 stars

Musical comedy and inventive wit from the former BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Awards semi-finalist.