sat 02/03/2024

Josh Pugh Live at Birmingham Town Hall review - observational gags with a touch of the surreal | reviews, news & interviews

Josh Pugh Live at Birmingham Town Hall review - observational gags with a touch of the surreal

Josh Pugh Live at Birmingham Town Hall review - observational gags with a touch of the surreal

Another chance to see the Edinburgh Fringe award-nominated show

Josh Pugh addresses some serious topics with a light touch

Josh Pugh made quite an impression at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, where he was deservedly nominated for best show in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards with Sausage, Egg, Josh Pugh, Chips and Beans. In this special YouTube version, recorded at Birmingham Town Hall, he reprises that performance.

It's an accomplished, warm-hearted hour of observational comedy about this and that, much of it drawing attention to Pugh's hapless persona and the scrapes he gets into – such as accidentally grooming a ripped Serbian teenage kickboxer, or ruining his wife's dinner because he became distracted by finding out how old Ronan Keating is.

The comedy appears grounded in Pugh's everyday reality, but he veers nicely towards the surreal, and takes diversions to muse on stag dos, British dads abroad and how best to fight off a shark.

Threaded through the hour is the story of the struggle Pugh and his wife went through to become parents, but this isn't gloopy stuff, far from it. It wasn't easy for them but Pugh makes some very good comedy out of it. At one point, in order to make the sex less mechanical, they started roleplay and tried spanking. But again he wasn't terribly good – his wife said he spanked “like I was reassuring a nervous racehorse” – and his description of the male equivalent of the invasive procedures his wife had to face is superb.

Pugh uses his experience of fatherhood to examine what male role models he has had – his “people pleaser” grandad, whose choice of funeral song is wonderfully inapt – his stepfather and his father, who suffers from emotional displacement.

There's some serious stuff in here then, but Pugh delivers it with a light touch and so often makes himself the butt of the joke – whether it's about his ADHD, his mental health or his visual impairment, which led to some problems involving Captain Tom's birthday cards when Pugh worked in a Royal Mail sorting office during lockdown. (Pugh, by the way, is a member of England’s Para Lions partially-sighted football squad, which is taking part in the International Blind Sports Federation World Games in Birmingham next month.)

Pugh rattles through the hour, and the gag count is high in what is often a subtle examination of the psyche of the modern British male. And his knob gag is just marvellous.

There's some serious stuff in here then, but Pugh delivers it with a light touch

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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