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Oxford Review: Ben Champion - Human

4 starsAt the Oxford Fringe
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

Humans have their failings – but all in all, they’re pretty awesome. Ben Champion has a life-affirming message, some nice observations on human frailty and, if I may be so bold, a name worthy of a comic-book hero. He also has some damn fine songs.

The comedy song is a difficult art. When it’s done right it can have a longevity most jokes can’t boast… but when it’s done badly, it’s just a comedian whipping out their ukulele to disguise some B material with an even less impressive chord progression. Fear not! Champion’s music is at the heart of his act – he has an electric piano and two kinds of guitar – and he is a master, using a number of musical styles and some clever lyrics to create a host of entertaining songs, all on the subject of what it is to be human.

Humanity is a wide subject, and Champion covers everything from dictators to reusable shopping bags. The show maintains a good balance between a collection of songs and spoken sections, which both work as stand-alone entities, and impressively weave a wealth of subjects into a cohesive whole.
The energy of the songs does sometimes highlight an abrupt change in pace between the music and more standup sections. Champion has the tendency to edge closer to the audience and wander a bit while he talks, which is in marked contrast to his confident, planted stance while he plays.

But Human is a very satisfying show, with plenty of laughs. Bouncing with ease from everyday frustrations to existential questions, Champion’s songs are accessible and irreverent – making for a show that is smart, funny and awesome in equal measure.

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