Russell Hicks: Unprepared
Improvised Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy shows potential but lacks impact
This article is from 2014.
There is no denying Russell Hicks has a keen talent for on-the-spot wit – it’s no mean feat to keep a late-night audience engaged for 45 minutes of improvised comedy in the rather dank downstairs of Just the Tonic. The rough premise for the gig was his characterisation of the audience members into a medley of cliques, American high school-style, during which he demonstrated a measured charm offensive. Pushing the boundaries of how far to insult strangers, he skilfully avoided the easy mistake of pissing everyone off.
The show, during its best moments, flowed fruitfully, cleverly intertwining previous references into creative new realms. This didn't always work though, leading to the eventual air of tiring repetition – dwarf jokes and comments about the riot upstairs started to wear thin as ideas for new material were noticeably lacking. There is no doubt Hicks is good at what he does, but his performance feels a bit amateur (or perhaps he was merely a little too Unprepared?). Something more than inane hilarity at the expense of the smokers in the back row is needed to elevate this quick-thinking American funnyman to a serious comedian, but for the time being he's certainly worthy of a return to the Fringe.
Just the Tonic at The Tron, 556 5375, until 24 Aug (not 12), 11.40pm, free, non-ticketed.