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Chris Ramsey: Offermation
Published on Sunday, 14 August 2011

4 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
3-28 Aug, 9:50pm-10:50pm
Reviewed by Hannah Van Den Bergh

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

‘Offermation (n): Information that is given without being asked for; especially information that is useless or is unwanted’ – fairly similar to the job description of a comedian, you may well think.  But cheeky Tynesider Chris Ramsey weaves the audience through a  delightful hour ridiculing a specific offermation, the ‘Round Robin’ he receives from his mothers’ aunt – whom he’s never met – every Christmas.

Ramsey performed verbal contortions, steering between audience obstacles and emerging nonplussed for the deserving applause.  He was unfazed by the fact the audience heckled and interjected – and one woman, sat front and centre, cut and ran once the performance was in swing – somehow mistaking  Ramsey for American comedian, Hannibal Buress, who was performing next door.

Those of us in the right show quickly fall for Ramsey’s comical potential, warming to his subtle jibes and darting between stories.  He creates a resonant premise – life would be boring without the odd bit of offermation.  Looking at the evolution of three consecutive years of Round Robbins, like opening a book on a random page and commencing to read without the faintest clue of what exactly is going on, this comic wonder truly charms with his beautifully crafted jibes, attacking a topic so simple.  As Ramsey draws to a close, there is a tinge of disappointment in the air purely because his performance is ending.  But he ends on a high – the audience sliding to the edge of their seats trying not to miss a second of the action.

With a genuine enthusiasm for Christmas and a wit that warmed the room, pushing for a punch line and barely stopping for breath, Ramsey was a real pleasure to watch.  Audiences are flooding in (sometime accidentally): he explains that “there’s been a problem with excessive ticket sales for this show due to a mess-up in the box office.”  I don't think his next experience with excessive tickets sales will be due to a box officer error, though.  With such humour and likeability, Ramsey brings a little bit of the Sanddancer out in all of us.  ('Sanddancer (n): 1. A person who was born in South Shields, a coastal town in the North East of England.')

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