After the whirl and intensity of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, those comedians who make it out with their sanity and dignity intact are offered the artistic version of a victory lap. During the months of September and October, the Soho Theatre hosts those acts that were nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, both the Newcomer and Main Award. One of the nominees for the Main award this year was Tom Parry, a comedian more recognizable from his work in the sketch show Pappy’s and his galumphing turn in the TV show Badults.
His comic persona is very similar to that of his sketch and television work, an energetic, slightly buffoonish presence, fuelled by his enthusiasm for fancy dress and for costumes that have a large surface area. The subject of fancy dress is a great subject for which Parry to display the inner workings of his comic mentality, a man determined to extract as much fun from any circumstances and go hang the idea of feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.
Another love of Parry’s is that of language and he delights in telling the crowd of is passion for particular words and phrases. He extols the virtues of ‘chirpsing’, a more benign form of flirting, and invites the audiences to assemble the written form of the abbreviation for ‘Pleasure Treasure’, an exercise that sees the audience go in a number of different and beguiling directions.
One thing that Parry does not have is the ability to write beautifully crafted one-liners in the manner of Stewart Francis or Gary Delaney. Jokes about castles and shepherds’ aphorisms have the audience more groaning than laughing but the jokes’ clumsiness actually feels more akin to the spirit of the show, which is marked more by boundless enthusiasm than technical expertise.
However, that is not to say that there is a great amount of thought that has gone into the show, and it is only afterwards do you realise how adept Parry has been in tying everything all together. He is extremely gifted in marshalling the audience and involving them throughout the show, culminating in the performance finishing in a standing ovation, which admittedly he asked for and has been practiced twice.
Parry’s skill as a performer is to make you feel, as an audience, that you’re not at a show but at a party. He is not like other comedians in asking you to challenge your world view but is simply asking you to let go and let a bit more fun into your life. And who isn’t a fan of that?
Tom Parry in Yellow T-Shirt is on until Saturday 3rd October at:
21 Dean Street