Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Money
These comics present us with philosophy, practicality and pedantic observations on that stuff that makes the world (and the Fringe) go round
For the philosophical side of finance, Aidan Killian’s The Money Shot [★★] gives us an overview of how those with power keep the power, but does so by becoming a touch preachy. A former banker, Killian is now trying to philosophise himself out of debt in a way that sounds more holier-than-thou than it does man-of-the-people. Sometimes the logic works well, and it’s clear that the idea behind the show is one of redistribution of wealth and all-round good things, but wooden delivery makes it feel more like a lecture than a comedy show, the jokes speaking of a personal confidence that we mostly don’t see.
At times Killian hits his stride and allows himself to go off-script, and it’s clear that a lot of research has gone into the show, but sometimes we need more of this research and fewer imagined scenes detailing out-of-date satirical observations.
For more shouty rabble-rousing stand-up, John Gordillo gives us Love Capitalism [★★★★] about our relationship with money via advertising. Using real-world examples that affect us all, Gordillo proves himself as an experienced performer just as comfortable making a joke about wanking as one about insidious marketing techniques. At first he holds back on making any of this personal and then really lets loose and is honest with us, without ever excusing himself or anyone else for our actions.
At times this feels a bit repetitive with so many examples to hammer home, but we’re left with good food for thought about our power, or lack thereof, as consumers and cogs in the capitalist machine. Gordillo gives us plenty of instances of the new wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing approach of marketing departments and how ridiculous this is. Once we leave, these low-lying marketing techniques start sticking out like an over-friendly sore thumb.
Looking further into the causes of inequality is Dominic Frisby’s Let’s Talk About Tax [★★★], complete with pie charts and a clear bullet-pointed structure. Frisby presents a libertarian view of taxation and how world governments have used it to enforce arbitrary laws, looking particularly at the shortcomings of the UK government and HMRC.
Though detailed in some ways, Frisby mostly leaves us with a feeling of informed impotence: we know that we’re losing money to a system that isn’t accountable to anyone, but also how completely powerless we are to change it. This saps life from the comedy, and though he does give a clear plan for how things could change, this is without showing his working out and without looking at how this could be implemented. We don’t need a happy ending per se, but having convinced us that the tax system is screwing us over, we’re not given any relief.
Seemingly untouched by unfair taxation and the envy of all under-40s, Simon Evans is a home-owner and a seasoned stand-up, and gives us In The Money [★★★★] in an attempt to explain economics to the masses. His own familial gripes aired, he launches into the benefits of home ownership while sipping on port and surveying us with cool misanthropy.
Verbose and charming, he presents a similar view of economics to Killian, Gordillo and Frisby in that it is largely impenetrable and down to luck a lot of the time. This applies as much to the landed gentry as it does to Evans himself, and he explains that the classic house-marriage-kids model worked out very well for him, though it may not do so for others now. Dubious investment advice makes the show teeter just on the edge of bragging, and makes it in all a straightforward and very funny view of the capitalistic machinations going on around us.