Simon Evans’ new show Genius was a solid performance. Despite the some slower stretches it was peppered with genuine laugh-out-loud moments and was a solid display of reliable comedy talent.
For those who don’t know him (I didn’t), Evans presents as a genial sociology teacher, getting more jaded as the night wears on. Sporting a beige tie, receding hairline, rimless glasses and a short goatee, he places himself firmly in the 'middle age, middle-class' category. Clearly he knows his audience - he'd fit right in with the crowd at the Glee that rainy Sunday night.
Befitting his style and vocabulary, all the very best routines were drawn from staple middle-class fare - elderly parents, grown up children and needy pets. Clearly a consummate professional, Evans nails these with practiced nonchalance and graceful timing. He even managed to deliver these without it seeming as though he’s done the routines many times before. Jokes like son v.s. biscuits and father v.s. garden elicited genuine and sustained laughter from all attending.
Evans skillfully treads a fine line, never quite stepping over to the offensive or crude. Being good at his job he doesn’t have to rely on swearing or shocking the audience to raise a laugh, and managed to be cutting without being insulting. All tried and tested, and all very effective.
In the second half of the show Evans took a slightly different tact, exploring the state of our (decaying) civilization in a series of longer, interconnected pieces. He even brought some props along to help him. Though there were still cackles to be had, this part of the show lost some of the first half’s pace. Some longer build ups ended in only a slightly amusing points, and at times it seemed that Evans was not fully sure where he was looking to land a story.
For the second half, though I did laugh, I think it could have been tightened up and scripted more succinctly. I’m aware that my clamouring for ‘faster and polished’ just epitomises the very problem that Evans was mocking. What can I say, I’m a product of my milieu.