Rhys James: Begins
Underwhelming début lacks humour and fails to find niche
This article is from 2014.
Rhys James wants badly to make it as a comedian. He plays a video at the start of his show, about choosing the right title with help from his agent, and agreeing on buzzwords to put in the press release about it. (He settles on ‘Begins’ for a title, this being his Edinburgh festival début.)
The 23-year-old has heard himself described as one of the ‘haircut comedians’, presumably a new genre where puppyish, pretty, young, but underwhelming, still undercooked stand-ups get chucked in, and doused in faint praise. But for all this dissection of the progress of his comedy career, he seems to have overlooked the comedy bit.
The crowd want badly to like him too. It’s awkward for everyone at the end when James waits to individually say bye to his crowd. Despite James’s best attempts at audience bonding through self-deprecation (‘I’m not even a household name in my own house!’), it’s not working without funny material to fall back on. He dabbles in poetry, beaming, ‘there are loads of comedians, but none of them rhyme!’, which smells like rookie delusion. Finally he nervously quips, ‘I still need to find my niche!’. And sadly, it’s funny because it’s true.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 24 Aug, 4.45pm, £9–10.50 (£8.50-9.50).