Josh Howie: AIDS: A Survivor's Story (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

Josh Howie: AIDS: A Survivor's Story

Comedian on top of his game and unafraid to test crowd's limits at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Calling your show AIDS: A Survivor’s Story is one thing. Riffing for an hour on and around the disease which had a generation permanently on edge is a tough sell. At one point, Josh Howie even claims that his agent baulked when he first proposed this project. Deeply personal shows have been Howie’s forte since appearing on the Fringe in 2008 with his debut solo show about growing up as the son of Lynne ‘Ab Fab’ Franks. While no doubt there will be grains of truth sprinkled around this story, it’s clearly a dig at the stage-memoir-as-therapy trope that has been gloriously successful and ever more prevalent in the comedy section of the Fringe programme.

Never letting the mask drop for a second, Howie aims to convince us that he could, maybe, might-have contracted HIV in the early 90s and has lived under a death sentence ever since. It’s an audacious show and as well as the inevitable skirting dangerously along a thin line of illness-related taste, he sticks in lines about anorexia and Israel which are received with audible gasps. It’s a sound Howie has become familiar with throughout his stand-up life and he remains unafraid of testing a crowd’s limits.

At heart, though, Josh Howie is a gag writer, and during this hour they simply pour out of him at an astonishing rate. Not all of them hit their target, but when he successfully concocts a delightful turn of phrase or captivating image, there are very few who can touch him.

Canons’ Gait, 226 0000, until 23 Aug, 2.25pm, free.

Josh Howie – AIDS: A Survivor's Story

  • 4 stars

Stand up comic who loves a controversial topic.