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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2012 arrow Gerry Howell's Parrot Fashion Accessories
Gerry Howell's Parrot Fashion Accessories
Published on Tuesday, 08 May 2012

4 stars

Laughing Horse @ Caroline of Brunswick (venue website)
7, 13, 20 May, 7:00pm-8:00pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 World Premiere.

A useful piece of kit for every comedian’s toolbox is the skill and presence to make a show work, even when the punters barely out-number the people onstage. Despite seeming agitated by his audience of four before the show started, once he’d begun Gerry Howell did an excellent job of ironing away the awkwardness – making us feel that this exclusive show would be, not only fine with a tiny crowd, but all the better for it. With some muttered opening patter of “I don’t know where everyone else has got to,” he sidled into a show that was smart, surreal and self-deprecating.

It was also, consistently, very funny. Howell’s shambling comic persona seems not to realise how hilarious he is, as he chit-chats with the audience and explains that he’s going to tell a few stories. It takes him so long to start on the first one that I started to think this was going to be a shaggy dog of a show, but, no, he does actually make it through to the end and goes on to tell more besides.

And what stories. What silly, indescribable, loopy stories: sometimes touching, sometimes just elaborate one-line jokes, sometimes ideas that trail away. With each one Howell interrupts his narrative, and thinks aloud. Sometimes, he asks us what the author (Howell himself) could have been thinking?

With Howell’s guidance we, his audience of four, decided we really liked the story ‘Night Golf’, and what we particularly liked about it was its title. Howell also makes a show of playing music from his iPod for each story, and pointed out that I should mention what a great atmosphere he created. Atmospheres on other planets, he explained, aren’t so nice, on account of being poisonous.

I loved this show, from its silly title to its abrupt conclusion. Howell’s performance was distinctive, brave and clever; his material is strong, very funny and fascinatingly underplayed. With a set-up like this, his own story is surely soon to end in glory.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.