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Jimmy McGhie - The All-Powerful Warrior...
Published on Friday, 20 August 2010

4.5 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
4-30 Aug, 9:45pm (10:45pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

I haven't counted, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy McGhie has come up with the longest title in this year's Fringe catalogue.  There isn't room to fit it all in above, but here's the full version: Jimmy McGhie - The All-Powerful Warrior Who With His Endurance and Inflexible Will to Win Goes From Conquest to Conquest Leaving Fire in His Wake.  Don't mistake it for an attention-grabbing gimmick (or not only that, at least): the title, like the show, has a hidden depth.

For Jimmy McGhie is not the first All-Powerful Warrior to do all that.  The original, and the inspiration for the show, was Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga – better known as Joseph Mobutu, the former dictator of Zaire.  Mobutu took his new name, the literal translation of which is the title of McGhie's show, as a demonstration of his authoritarian power.  As channelled through McGhie, Mobutu acts as a sort of muse, chiding and encouraging the layabout comedian on a journey of self-discovery.

The ghostly musings of the deposed despot form an amusing through-thread to a sequence of well-observed and well-delivered comic routines, centred around his slothful life and lack of drive.  I'm not sure he's quite telling the truth: in only his second solo show, McGhie packed out one of the Pleasance's larger cupboards on the night I saw him, and the existence he describes in his set suggests some sort of ambition at play – why else endure a twilight working world of evening comedy clubs, leading to lonely days of video games and trips to Tesco Metro?  But no matter.

He takes on an admirably broad range of comers, from stoner kids on X-Box Live to hypocritical eco-tourism gap year girls in Africa, but usually undercuts his attacks with a self-deprecating comedown before it become actually vicious.  This works each and every time, in no small part due to his effortless nonchalance and big grin.

The material for his routines could hardly be described as startlingly original (he's not the first young comic I've heard this year talk about the awkwardness of living with a sibling and his/her partner, for instance), but it's delivered with real charm and a refreshing honesty.  The individual segments are linked together well, not only by invocation of Mobutu, and build to a satisfying and genuine conclusion.

You can really sense that McGhie is a comedian on the way up, no matter what he says about his drive and ambition.  The All-Powerful Warrior Who With His Endurance And Inflexible Will To Live Goes From Conquest To Conquest Leaving Fire In His Wake is a carefully-sculpted delight, and it's an absolute joy to see Jimmy McGhie just as he's on the brink of doing just that.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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