Whether it was the heat or nerves or the lack of audience goodwill, Joey Page’s usual whimsical and playful energy was a little subdued last night at his Edinburgh show preview at Top Secret Comedy Club. But then, he did decide to wear a suit to ensure he sweated more for us, to show his gratitude to us for choosing him in a dark basement comedy club over spending the beautiful Sunday outdoors.
His PowerPoint presentation of ‘Things I Haven’t Seen This Week’ – an old school slideshow of handheld childish drawings – acted as an introduction to the UK’s first ‘unobservational comedy’. The unpolished preview wasn’t up to scratch but he was full of charm, as his tales leapt within 60 seconds from Tesco pizza to Eric Cantona to a girl coming out of the shower to a punchline that needs work.
He explains a conflict between his head and his imagination (with an office just how he imagined it) and a dinosaur that’s a metaphor for his comedy. It’s random and funny and silly – and I love it. He starts with a joke that his head wrote and then develops a wildly imaginative story to back it up for greater laughs – but his awareness of the audience’s slowness is endearing when he chastises himself with a “too cocky, rein it in”. His story about the lengths he will go to appear charitable in front of chuggers is a fast-paced treat.
But then, it is hard work. He sweated and struggled valiantly to win over an audience who didn’t, at first, appreciate his mental leaps and bounds. His story about a burglar flopped; “unobservational comedy is hard, as you can see from that joke that just died” he admits, lying on the floor in the expectant wake of no reaction. Perhaps the audience was just too hot and tired to think. Is a review of a live performance really a review of the audience?!
He is quick witted and quick to smile and when bar staff dropped a glass he said, instantly, after some badly pronounced French: “Yep. They smash a glass every time I get my French right.”
Research on the comparisons to Noel Fielding took me on a 25 minute digression to watch an episode of the Mighty Boosh. Joey Page is better than that. I don’t see that influence as much as a Pixie Fairy Tale hipster character who writes fantastic jokes – some of them real, but most of them are imaginative leaps and bounds and he proves himself a fictional adventurer.
He leads up to his quiz show which is really, really good. Answers are unknown and picked from the hat of destiny; the questions are perfectly timed, clever jokes. But don’t lose the quiz show, Edinburgh, or he’ll eat his Caramac!
JOEY PAGE: REALITY IS OUTSIDE, PARADISE IS IN YOUR BRAIN
Edinburgh Festival, Comedy: 31 July – 26 August, Pleasance Courtyard, The Cellar 8:30pm – book tickets up to £9