Josh Weller @ Pleasance Courtyard

Musician-turned-comedian Josh Weller’s debut hour at the Edinburgh Fringe takes the term ‘musical comedy’ to impressive heights

Review by Yasmin Hackett | 08 Aug 2023
  • Josh Weller

Josh Weller is more than meets the eye. He was signed by Universal Records at the tender age of 23… then quickly dropped by them. Now, here he is, a stand-up comic performing his debut at the Edinburgh Fringe armed with stories about the world of music executives – and plenty of laughs.

The first half is all introductions where he shares his path into music, his love of Phil Collins, and his younger self’s love of overly tight-fitting trousers. We learn about the flashier aspects of the music world, alongside the disgusting ones (if you’ve ever wondered how touring musicians relieve themselves on the road, Weller quickly deprives you of that innocence).

There is a cynical edge to the hour as Weller takes aim largely, and deservedly, at the music industry. His musical filofax brain also gives way to some great gags – including a memorable bit of off-the-cuff audience interaction, as he asks us which was the artist that our parents found offensive for the first time.

Some of the material can feel a little run-of-the-mill at times, but the show thrives when he’s sharing sordid details of the industry he came of age around. It’s always a bit of a risk to rely on prop work and this makes up a good portion of this show, but he does pull it off. Regular musical interludes poking fun at music stereotypes from each decade keep things moving nicely, with solid jokes keeping the show afloat, and a shocking revelation about his experience as a musician has the audience raging against the machine with him.

Despite what the title of the show may suggest, we end on a high note, and this is musical comedy after all, so how else to end it but with a song (which he assures us is the next great hit). The fact that he has us all singing along is surely a sign that maybe, just possibly, both music and comedy can be Weller’s calling.

Josh Weller: Age Against The Machine, Pleasance Courtyard (Below), until 27 Aug (not 14), 7.10pm, £9.50-11