Bobby Mair @ Monkey Barrel Comedy
Bobby Mair returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with his typically dark brand of stand-up
“This show is a work in progress,” disclaims Bobby Mair. “Which means that only parts of it are good.”
It’s a typically self-deprecating remark from the now-35-year-old, aware that he’ll only be described as ‘young’ if he snuffs it right now. He’s not wrong about the show’s varying quality either. But as Mair points out, it’s been a weird 18 months which largely involved him staring at a wall. Given the choice, he would rather have been performing and so it’s unfair to assume that his lesser-developed jokes wouldn’t have been culled in a different, more stable year.
Cockroach is billed as an hour of ‘dark, gut-wrenching stand-up’, mostly surrounding his mental health. Diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Mair is at his best when earnestly sharing his anxieties and even launching into an impromptu rant in response to a dismissive audience member who suggests we’re “all a little mentally ill”.
Where the shock humour doesn’t always land is when taking on broader issues, like the Climate Crisis. Closing on the topic, it unfortunately isn’t yet blunted by a good enough punchline to remove the sting of the grim reality we’re facing. In Mair’s defence, he’s not out to coddle anyone. To the youngest person in the room, he says: “All of those things you can’t wait to do? We [the rest of the room] have all done them, and they sucked.” This hits home. It’s a reminder that the room doesn’t need uplifting, so long as the joke hurts in just the right way.
They say comedy is tragedy plus time, whereas Mair might say it’s tragedy plus syntax. Yet maybe that’s a tautology, since the perfect line takes time. But more crucially, it takes an audience to tell you when it’s not there yet.
Bobby Mair definitely listens to his crowds. So now that he has one again, he could soon be on to a winner.
Bobby Mair: Cockroach, Monkey Barrel Comedy, run ended. Reviewed on 15 Aug 2021