Michael Odewale @ Pleasance Courtyard

Michael Odewale's debut Fringe show is packed with observations on race and being a better person, but with less punch than some peers

Review by Polly Glynn | 07 Aug 2019
  • Michael Odewale @ Pleasance Courtyard

Michael Odewale is a selfish man. He’s so selfish he lets people come into his show seven minutes in, and doesn’t even acknowledge that they’re being rude and then continue sitting stony-faced straight through his debut hour.

It’s difficult to dislike Odewale, or even contemplate that he’s egotistical (besides the fact that he's doing a solo stand-up show about his life experiences). He’s got charm in buckets and an affable manner to go with his crowd-pleasing jokes. Nothing’s smutty enough to alienate folk, and there’s a surprisingly dark edge to his comedy when he jokes about the consequences of a date with a nut allergy. Black Bears Matter is an enjoyable exploration of race and class through the lens of never quite fitting in: looked down on as too poor at private school, “not black enough” to fit in when he later moves to a local comp, being the token black guy in an office.

Unfortunately, none of this seems like cutting edge material and Odewale’s punchlines hover just above landing-level. Yet this may well be a sign of the desperate need to diversify Fringe audiences, making both Fringe performing and attending readily available to all, something which ties neatly to Odewale’s overall observations and social commentary. Winner of the Leicester Comedy Festival Best New Show Award back in March, the hour shoehorns in a framework and moral pull, making it less deftly crafted than other debuts of Odewale’s peers.

Michael Odewale: Black Bears MatterPleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), until 25th Aug (not 12), 5.30pm, £6.50-£10