Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Jimmy McGhie: Artificial Intelligence
Jimmy McGhie: Artificial Intelligence
Published on Sunday, 14 August 2011

4 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
3-14, 16-28 Aug, 9:40pm-10:40pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

There is a point in Jimmy McGhie's routine where he's recalling a conversation with someone who wants him to tell more jokes.  “It's not all about jokes any more,” he says, “comedy has advanced.”  It's now about “me doing silly voices and talking about myself.”

He certainly does plenty of both, but it would be unfair for us to wrap up Artificial Intelligence as neatly and dismissively as that; there's more at work here.  The mildly punning title of the show is a reference to McGhie's efforts to not appear crass or uneducated, to fit in (with his arty qualification from Kent) alongside siblings and flatmates who are UN peace negotiators or post-doctoral students in African politics.

This requires a certain emotional honesty, but, as a young-ish lad, a lot of that strays into the pursuit of the opposite sex.  He describes using characters to get through awkward intimate situations in a way that is revealing, in multiple senses – it'll certainly colour the way I hear the Welsh accent in future.

The sense of using these comic creations as a crutch is  certainly believable, given how often he returns to a favourite of his, Nelson Mandela.  No problem with that – Mandela has a very distinctive manner of speaking, after all.  The difficulty is that it's not a very good impression of the great man, and the accent (as McGhie notes) does start to wander.

The caricature of Professor Brian Cox, off the telly, is better, and helps advance the narrative somewhat.  McGhie's recollections of working on documentaries with Cox and others while at the BBC provide both fun insider stories (hungover film crews avoiding the ever-smiling Cox) and a dramatic conclusion and opportunity for reflection.

Artificial Intelligence lacks the high-concept premise of McGhie's Joseph Mobuto-inspired 2010 show, and is more of a straight turn.  The ending attempts a revelation of sorts, but feels a bit rushed.  Instead, enjoy an excellent young stand-up delivering an intelligent hour of comedy.

<< Bane 1, 2 and 3   Ali Cook - Principles and... >>