Phil Mann: Nothingism
An often toiling adlib experience from a perfectly genial comic
This article is from 2016.
The concept of nothingism apparently means that you can answer any question with the words 'it doesn't matter', and you have then signed up to your very own semi-nihilistic quasi-religious philosophy. As a short opening film indicates, there are some powerful philosophical figures who can attest to this movement's message such as Noam Chomsky and the no-longer-alive Michel Foucault.
This is the only scripted material in Phil Mann's show (a follow-up to last year's not improvised Hydrophobia) as he insists that he's putting this theory fully into practice by not coming to the festival with a single moment of prepared material. He has arrived heavily armed with cards featuring quotations containing gaps which a handful of audience members fill with their own suggestions. Mann then takes those offerings and attempts to spin some adlibbed magic with them. On this occasion, it's something of a long struggle before he does happen upon anything remotely amusing and there are laughs of relief when he hits upon a funny image or idea.
As Tommy Tiernan proved at last year's Fringe, even the masters of stand-up can toil when left to their own instantaneous devices. Top of the heap in adlibby innovations this Fringe is improv under hypnosis, but does Phil Mann really bring anything fresh to the table? Well, it doesn't matter.
Laughing Horse at Bar 50, until 27 Aug, 4.45pm, free.