A one-man sketch act which broadens out the form with exciting effect
This article is from 2015.
As we enter the room, it appears that a man is crouched down at the front of the stage, his head planted in a bucket of water. When Douglas Walker emerges a few seconds later, dripping wet, it’s to tell us that comedians are not some unearthly thick-skinned creatures who can simply bat away negative reactions; they too can feel pain. At first it feels like a rather desperate plea for audiences (violent hecklers in the specific example he cites) and critics to go easy on the person before you who is only trying to bring a modicum of joy into the world. But in the universe of Möglich, the power play is all coming one way, from a very original act whose material and performance has us firmly lodged in the palm of his hand.
Walker (a member of the Racing Minds improv gang), makes his solo debut with a show which is not afraid to show off his high-minded intentions with references to Carl Sagan, David Mamet, Samuel Pepys and Franz Kafka all in there while sports fans will enjoy Peter Schmeichel and Damon Hill getting a look-in. There’s some comedy industry satire too, with a recurring gag about a rock which receives critical acclaim after an initially baffled reaction to his early deadpan appearances.
Although it’s become something of a trope for Fringe sketch acts, Walker’s self-interventions to take himself out of a scene and look down upon his own creation does actually feel both fresh and genuine. Sometimes he performs in the shadows, on other occasions he worries that he’s ‘over-thinking it’. A routine about a tortured journalist in the Middle East doesn’t quite have the pay-off (how could it?) to nullify the stress of the horrific build-up but it’s another sign of Walker’s confidence that he can portray horror without losing the room. A bold and thought-provoking hour.
Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 226 0000, until 30 Aug, 2pm, £5–£7 (or Pay What You Want).