Tom Walker: Beep Boop
Room-dividing clowning fare from a red-faced manchild
This article is from 2016.
It's a surefire sign that a Fringe performer is onto a good thing when he splits a crowd in the way Tom Walker does. Prancing along a narrow tightrope between genius and inexcusable stupidity, he manages to persuade most of this evening's audience to believe in his clowning, leaving just a few naysayers to mutter 'a tenner for this!' under their breath.
What a tenner gets you is an hour of fun and games, presented by a man who speaks and looks a bit like a young David Cameron, stripped down and ready for a PE lesson. A rising star on the Aussie alternative comedy scene, Walker wears short black shorts and a smartly pressed blue shirt. He waves at the audience. He gets them onside, initially. Then he sneers when they don't cotton on hastily enough to the rules of the very particular games he's playing.
Much like mute crowd-pleaser The Boy With Tape On His Face, the skill in Walker's act lies in him encouraging the crowd to pick up on his minimal, practically subliminal instructions. Happily they do, slowly feeling their way into the absurd rhythm of his routines. When he mimes a magician's flourish and flashes an invisible card in your face, you know whether or not it's the card you've been thinking of.
Another clear inspiration is Doctor Brown, the American trailblazer who's terrorised Edinburgh with his indecent clowning over the best part of a decade. Some of Walker's best gross-out moments owe a very clear debt to Brown's bad-taste mime. But, if there's a slight lack of originality to his lo-fi antics, there are enough inspired moments to afford this sweating, gurning, red-faced manchild a special place in your hearts. And, yes, it is worth a tenner. If only to watch an audience member be willingly pulled out of a pretend vagina.
Underbelly George Square, until 29 Aug, 8.10pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).