Nominated for this year's Newcomer Award, Nath Valvo is a very talented comedian, but his show is hit-and-miss
In Happy Idiot, Nath Valvo demonstrates a real strength as a storyteller. In particular, he evokes not only his childhood home but some layered and effective contrasts between the years spent there as a teenager and now, at 32, as the half-welcome prodigal son. His language flowers with lots of nice analogies and he holds an amiably winning presence on stage – he also plays a neat trick with one prop to elicit a sensory experience, offering us the exact smell of the late 90s.
Overall, however, his zigzags between routines become like finding jigsaw pieces strewn all over the place, none of which belong in the same box. There's a pisstake of crowd work, fleeting lip-syncs and an oddly hardcore piece of audience interaction. Then there are longueurs of an observational kind on mothers, fathers, teenagers and his pasta-loving grandmother. It's actually this family material that lands best with today's audience, and he is indeed extremely able when conveying a saucer-eyed innocence. In fact, even when he moves from his family and onto his sex life – telling of an accidental orgy – it all seems to chime with an 'we've all been there' charm.
There's definitely more than enough in the individual routines to suggest Valvo might soon write a great show, but bluntly – and despite his newcomer nomination – Happy Idiot just isn't that show. He's a fun choice to be on the list for sure, but also a rum one.
Nath Valvo: Happy Idiot, Gilded Balloon (Sportsmans), 3-28 Aug (not 16), 6.45pm, £10.50-12