John McKeever: Multifarious
A multi-character disaster zone which is hard to swallow
This article is from 2015.
The blurb for John McKeever describes him as a ‘new kind of comedian’. If you’ve never seen the early multi-character work of Simon Brodkin and Adam Riches, this very bold claim might have some vague merit. With a clothes rack on stage, his inter-sketch costume-changing has nothing of the ingenious meta-narrative that Brodkin pulled off while McKeever’s handling of crowd interaction is pitiful when you measure it against early Riches.
Whereas the Edinburgh Comedy Award winner would construct a vice-tight script which practically fed an audience member the next line, McKeever’s attempts simply leave his participants hanging, forcing them to find something funny to say in order to keep a routine alive. This is particularly acute in the motivational speaker segment (think Tom Cruise in Magnolia) when his attempts to bring two people together in order to prove what happiness is merely slams against the rocks before being brought to a whimpering end. Events are compered by a character with indeterminate east European heritage who is keen to show off his ‘abilities’. When he finally gets the opportunity to unleash them it remains a mystery as to what they might be.
The show does end on something of a show-saver with his Ulsterman martial arts instructor pursuing vengeance on a love rival (yep, another poor sod in the front row who gamely goes along). But by that hysteria-fuelled climax, Multifarious has committed so many genre crimes that it’s difficult to be forgiving.
Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug, 6.40pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).