|Swedenborg, the Devil and Me|
|Published on Tuesday, 21 August 2012|
Gregory Akerman got a bad review last year. He’s not dwelling on it. He’s really fine about the whole thing. Except that he’s made an entire show about it, focussing in particular on a stream of childish bile at the end of the piece where the reviewer calls Akerman the devil. Akerman is (apparently) not the devil, but his attempts to prove this fall apart over and over again.
Akerman is stunningly original, genuinely fresh, and packs his show with more interesting asides and fascinating throwaway than you’ll find in a dozen less ambitious fringe stand up performances. And yet, the show I saw had an audience of six, two of whom left halfway through. So, he’s probably not for everyone – but I loved every minute of his slow, whispered, self-referential hour-long hissy fit about a reviewer who got a bit carried away.
At one point, Akerman breaks down the etymology of his name, with no half measures: he takes us back to ancient Persia. At another he unpicks the translation of the number of the beast, ‘666,’ from the Dead Sea Scrolls; and, in yet another, he talks about using suicide as a way of chatting up women. It’s genuinely, thoroughly inventive over and over again. Akerman laughs at himself for putting so much effort into researching a hour of stand-up that will be inevitably overlooked. But I think he’s smarter than that.
I suspect Akerman, despite his lack of obvious success, despite his bad reviews and tiny room, knows he is onto something and has something special. His is a kind of comedy that most people will find baffling and deliberately obscure, but a few of us – people like me – will find a genuine Fringe highlight. A triumph of self belief and a real instinct for taking comedy to truly new places.
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FROM OUR ARCHIVES
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.