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Life's Short. I'm Not! - Free
Published on Monday, 27 August 2012
2

2 stars

Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar (venue website)
Comedy
2-26 Aug, 12:00am-1:00am
Reviewed by Liam McKenna

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

When you warn a British audience that your material is filthy, it better be ‘filthy’. It better be so dirty that it has people gagging in the aisles; it better burn our throats with rising acidic juices, and stain our memory with the sickeningly graphic mental images. When your filthiest joke turns out to be about oral sex, you might want to work on your judgement.

Here lies Bronston Jones’s problem. In the country that gave rise to Frankie Boyle – someone who can cause national outrage through a single tweet – he needs to reconsider what he classes as ‘shocking’. His is the last show of the night, and this may sound harsh, but I can see why it’s going down so well with everyone. They’re all drunk.

This may be cutting-edge comedy in the States, the kind of show only suitable for late-night audiences. But here, this show is only suitable for late-night audiences because they’ve had a few drinks and couldn’t care less. Put this show on mid-afternoon and you’ll have a room of sober punters sighing under their breath, not because it offends them but because it’s actually pretty tame. There’s a high tolerance threshold here – after all, the current number one in every single book chart is BDSM for mummies.

Jones has the potential to tell good stories, and he certainly promises us decent pay-offs, but they never seem to emerge. Almost every story of his revolves around him hanging out with porn stars, doing coke, and reeling off how much sex he gets. There’s an undeniable whiff of stereotypical narcissism. The constant ‘bragging’, if you can call it that, starts to grate (again, with the largely sober sections of the crowd).

And this comes after Jones starts his act with another familiar trait: apologising for being American. For whatever reason people do this, be it a yearning to distance themselves from the ‘average American’ tag or just because they feel it’s their duty to apologise on behalf of their homeland, it’s now so clichéd it makes audiences judge them more so. The fact he was an American hadn’t even crossed my mind until, oh, he brought it up.

The show manages to drag on half an hour past its advertised end time, due in part to it being the last of the night, but mainly because of a tight-lipped British audience who feel it’s rude to walk out. The best story of the night comes late, and is about Jones’s paranoia around catching AIDS; this sticks mainly for a dark moment where, pondering the outcome of a test and because he loves his ex so much, he wishes she has AIDS too, so they can still be together. But even this is still a bit cheap, and panders to an immature audience who would laugh at anything verging on a mention of sexuality.

Whereas his ‘filth’ may not be as filthy as Jones may think it is, and his ‘gayest moment ever’ was a bit of an anti-climax, he still manages to spurt out a few casual, lame rape and cocaine jokes like nobody’s business. And then after all this, fifteen minutes over time, the show gets unnecessarily preachy. Jones brings in his mantra (Life’s Short, I’m Not), and leaves us wondering if that was the point behind these tales of threesomes and falling in love with prostitutes. That life is short, so snort cocaine and risk STDs on a regular basis?

It’s hard to say. But I’m confident in one thing: if Bronston Jones wants to become renowned for being a shocking and filthy comedian, he needs to do a little more market research first.

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

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