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Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow Tony Jameson - Football Manager Ruined My Life
Tony Jameson - Football Manager Ruined My Life
Published on Sunday, 25 August 2013

4 stars

The Stand Comedy Club III & IV (venue website)
1-11, 13-25 Aug, 2:20pm-3:20pm
Reviewed by Liam McKenna

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

In an attempt to write his debut Fringe show about a subject he knows inside-out, Tony Jameson threatened to narrow his audience down to all but a handful of football fanatics. Football simulation fanatics, to be precise. Before arriving in Edinburgh he was rightly nervous about picking such a specific theme; but the show, entirely based on the computer game series Football Manager, has sparked such interest that Jameson’s actually sold out.

For the uninitiated, Football Manager is an absorbing simulation game – inexplicably absorbing, to an outsider – where you pretend to be the manager of a football team. But unlike most football-based computer games, you don’t actually play the matches yourself; it’s all worked out through a large database of statistics. FM is basically a “massive spreadsheet,” as Jameson puts it.

Now I’m not going to pretend this show will entertain all who seek it out. It is the very definition of niche. If you don’t recognise the name Mark Kerr, for instance, about 80% of the show is going to go over your head. But as an avid player of this popular computer game (as we speak I’m trying to get AFC Wimbledon promoted to League 1 at the second time of asking), I was interested in just how obscure the references were going to be.

Jameson confesses he’s played every single instalment since the release of Championship Manager 92, so yes, some of the earlier references did escape me. But aside from the ultra-specific topic, and mentions of stadium expansions and transfer deadline day, this is a thoroughly engaging show about a man’s addiction (or “enthusiasm”) and delusion over what is essentially a game. It tackles the dangerous battle that can emerge between the real and virtual worlds.

It’s interesting to see quite how massively the game has affected Tony, his relationships and social life, for a depressing amount of time (two thirds of his life. He’s 33). There are plenty of in-jokes and nods of recollection, but there’s also a good deal of sobering thought. For anyone who’s played the game, it does cut quite close to the bone. It’s certainly a show that could change your mind if you think addiction only involves drink and drugs.

Jameson compiled a plethora of statistics to demonstrate – for example – how many hours he has dedicated to the game (a truly shocking figure). It’s pretty agonising to hear him ponder how he might have better spent his time.

This is a loveable, affecting, painfully funny show. To his credit Jameson has tried to make it as inclusive as possible, but obviously it will evoke more meaning for fans of the game or recovering addicts (Jameson admits he tried to give up, but has played 3 seasons during the Fringe). With such passion and poignancy thrown into his first Edinburgh run, it will be interesting to see how Jameson can extend his comedy repertoire beyond this show. In the meantime, I’ve just beaten Leyton Orient 5-0 away in the first round of the League Cup.

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