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Rhys James: Forgives review

| Comedy, Festivals | 24/08/2016

© Matt Crockett
© Matt Crockett

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

James delivers a very impressively written show full of great jokes, call-backs and over-privileged angst.

Rhys James’ show is a well-crafted hour of entertainment, setting forth his views on the world as a 90s kid and self-confessed ‘prankster’.  Forgives refers to the fact that although his generation seems perpetually angry, his only struggles are to get by as a young, middle class, white, straight male and to master modern technology.

James knows what makes an audience tick.  He keeps his stories short and punchlines snappy.  He varies his jokes, directing plenty his own way – including one in which a “stupid, dumb parrot” reveals his girlfriend’s infidelity, and a later contention that “I’m not as vegan as I look”.

He’s comfortable smiting the PC brigade, announcing that God’s a man.  The evidence, he says, is fog: “No female God would voluntarily assist sex attackers by blurring air.”  He also dabbles in topicality, nodding to the Brexit vote (“I voted to leave … things as they are, and remain … undecided”) and bemoaning the fact that his parents’ generation have made it impossible for him to afford things like framed photographs.  “I can’t buy one of those,” he says to his Dad, “because I’ve had to spend all my money on rent.  And selfie sticks.  And forgetting to cancel Amazon Prime.”

His act makes excellent use of call-backs, helping seemingly less funny jokes get laughs by reintroducing them later on in unrelated sections – his attempts to popularise a saying involving Watermelons being a classic example.  Forgives is also neatly broken into manageable segments, punctuated by readings from his wittily written poetry packed full of 90s references and yet more call-backs.

If marks were given solely for material, James would receive close to 5 stars for Forgives.  However, his delivery lags behind a little.  At times he’s too rushed, failing to let the joke sink in before hitting the audience with another.  And at times he’s too blunt, his Jack Dee-esque resting-bitch-face sometimes sitting unhappily alongside self-deprecating content.

James is already an established writer and comedian with plenty of TV appearances.  But if he can relax into stand-up, slow down and project more enjoyment, he’ll be one of the best around.

Rhys James is performing Forgives at 16.45 at Pleasance Courtyard until 28th August (with an extra show at 21.45 on 26th).  For tickets, head here.  For details of Rhys’ next London shows, check his official website or follow him @RhysJamesy on Twitter.

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