Nathaniel Metcalfe: Trivial Pursuits (3 stars)

This article is from 2014

Nathaniel Metcalfe: Trivial Pursuits

Clever, deconstructivist stand-up comedy show at the Edinburgh Free Fringe

Like a magician displaying his empty sleeves, stand-up Nathaniel Metcalfe forecasts exactly what he’s going to do: which jokes he’ll tell; how successful they will be; what he should have said instead. With his material meandering through his time working at a comic book shop, his degree and a lifetime of consuming media, this tactic works well. There are enough highlights to keep the pace up, though it does make it seem that he is struggling to find his métier.

His relaxed, quietly confident delivery, smoke-screened by a conceit about his new-found celebrity status, hints that he is working on more than one level. This also becomes apparent in his tactic of deconstructing jokes as he progresses and an underlying plan is revealed. Lines that seemed throw-away are circled back upon, layering the meaning and increasing the pay-off. Various threads knit together as Metcalfe hits his stride with the material evolving into a nice piece of Dave Gorman-esque adventure.

Sustaining at least a chuckle throughout on the old laugh-o-meter, the highs (his word play and the finale) and lows (some passé stuff on advertising) come together to prove that he has been studying his comedian’s handbook.

Cabaret Voltaire, 226 000, until 23 Aug (not 13), 2.35pm, free.

Nathaniel Metcalfe: Trivial Pursuits

  • 3 stars

Nathaniel Metcalfe / Glorious Management / PBH’s Free Fringe More amusing meanderings from the star of BBC Radio 4’s James Acaster’s Findings (not James Acaster), Radio 4 Extra’s Fresh From The Fringe, and 2013’s Amused Moose Laughter Awards Top Ten Shows. ‘Impressive’ (Scotsman). ‘Delightfully silly’ (Time Out). ‘The…