Oxford Comedy Festival: Glenn Moore, Love Don't Live Here Glenny Moore, The Old Fire Station, 10th July 2019
Glenn Moore's jokes are relentless. Before we've even had time to comprehend the joke we've just heard, Moore moves us on to something new.
There's a hint of James Acaster's tone and turn of phrase in the first half an hour, which is an oddness that doesn't quite suit Moore. Really, he can get away with being quite a bit meaner than Acaster, especially given that the central conceit of his show is that he's just too nice a guy. Probably the best joke of the hour, for its bluntness and unexpectedness, comes out of Moore inhabiting the nastiness he's so quick to rebuke in his own personality. And when that joke is about Nigel Farage, a former work colleague of Moore's(!), who can argue?
Elements of the show have the potential to be excellent, with a stand-out section focusing on Dignitas. It would be fair to think that the subject matter would be the most arresting element of this bit, but what's really boundary-pushing about it is how it messes around with Moore's established form. We go from joke after joke to what feels like minutes of serious set-up. In a way, this actually allowed Moore to gain a greater momentum than the relentless joke-telling did. There was more at stake in these moments and everyone found themselves buying in.
The set was building well when a very loud phone halted proceedings. Moore dealt with this technological heckle (tech-le?) really well, but never quite managed to regain the same energy. This was a shame as there was some strong material post-interruption that would have landed much better if the vibe of the room hadn't been taken out of his hands.
Now Moore has established his baseline form of firing out joke after joke, I hope that this stability in his persona means that he'll be more eager to play around with our expectations. If Moore manages to iron out the kinks over the next three weeks, his finished Edinburgh hour will be well worth a watch.
Oxford Comedy Festival: Adam Hess, My Grandad Has a Fringe, The Old Fire Station, 10th July 2019
Adam Hess is hung up on the idea that his brother is cleverer than him. He's obsessed with it, and with proving that he can be clever too. Even if his mum still isn't impressed with him.
Hess doesn't want to talk about Brexit, or any politics. 'It's not that funny, is it?' he quips early on and he's right. It's really refreshing not to think about it for an hour or so. Instead, his comedy is observational at its core, and Hess is at his best when he's pointing out those odd foibles we all have but haven't clocked are universal habits. 'That's clever too though, isn't it?' he asks us rhetorically again and again about 45 minutes into his set. Working out why we're all the same kind of weird? His mum thinks she could do it. He tells her she can fuck off.
While its been a few years since peak-McIntyre, observational comedy still gets a bad rap from those Hess refers to as 'the clever comedians'. But his observations are of a far more bizarre bent to those you'd see on Mock the Week. The powerpoint he uses to introduce some facts about himself has a kind of shitposting streak to it which lands well with the audience, and his anecdotes often go a few steps further than anyone expects them to. This isn't 'man-drawer' material, this is 'I know exactly how you'd behave if, like me, you accidentally got stuck in your housemate's room while they masturbated' material.
There were points where Hess seemed a bit manic and it was sometimes quite stressful to watch him try and cram all his material into the hour. There's definitely some honing that needs to happen - his callbacks were a couple of edits away from having an impact - but the show's central idea felt present and vital throughout. Highlights were bits about a dude cake (don't ask), his disgust at Marco Pierre White, and the very impressive dictionary work that closed the set. If the work-in-progress is this funny then I strongly recommend you check out Hess's finished show My Grandad Has a Fringe if you happen to be in Edinburgh this year.