Tom Shillue: Impossible
Gentle musings from a genuine guy that paints some truly delightful pictures at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe
This article is from 2014.
When you’re an aspiring stand-up, having your comedy stamped with the word ‘approval’ by a big name can matter a great deal. Eddie Izzard has been a pioneer for comics coming to the Fringe from overseas (Trevor Noah being the most notable success) and there’s a band of European acts for whom English is not their first language who are here ‘in association’ with both Dylan Moran as well as the Better Together campaign’s most notable surrealist (insert own gag here).
Erudite American Tom Shillue looks like he could make his own way in the comedy world without anyone’s leg-up thank you very much, but it appears that Daniel Kitson was the man to ease his path to Edinburgh. Given that celebrity endorsement, it comes as no surprise to learn Shillue is cut from the same storytelling cloth. Like Kitson (nowadays), you can’t imagine Shillue getting up in the faces of his front row to berate them with barbed insults: he’s more likely to politely ask them if he could join in with their conversation.
Once he gets through his opening banter about how you could get away with all manner of offensive things in 1970s ad campaigns, he nibbles into the meat of his show: a set of stories mainly about his family and friends and a couple of curious incidents. The tales certainly arise from his own perspective (could he really be responsible for creating one of America’s most iconic 80s dance crazes?) but he does paint some truly delightful pictures.
It can be shown that subtle imagery-led comedy can go down well with Edinburgh audiences (Kitson himself and Demetri Martin for two), but Tom Shillue’s gentle odes don’t offer up much that will still be with you in a couple of weeks’ time.
Assembly Rooms, 0844 693 3008, until 24 Aug (not 11), 9pm, £10 (£9).