Neal Portenza @ Heroes, Boteco

Neal Portenza is Australasia’s most successful bilge pump salesman Joshua Ladgrove in this cult classic in the making

Review by James McColl | 15 Aug 2019
  • Comedy

Before you see Neal Portenza's latest offering, you should know that this is not a comedy show. This is a seminar on how to sell bilge pumps accidentally booked during the Fringe. 

Neal Portenza's new character creation, Joshua Ladgrove, stars in Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove in: Edinburgh's Only Bilge Pump Sales Seminar. As Australasia’s most successful bilge pump salesman, it falls to Ladgrove to teach the willing his bilge pumps sales techniques. For the next hour, Ladgrove will be speaking to a room of honorary bilge pump sales folk.

Sharp, quick-witted and armed to the teeth with punchlines, Ladgrove is a comedy force to be reckoned with. He uses tech, props and a lecture format to achieve the right mix of hilarity and motivational-speaker parody. It’s a show that brings together a unique comedy character with precise comic accuracy. 

Ladgrove has a special talent for building long-form comedy which may frustrate audience members who can't find a way into the act. This isn't their fault as from the start, he plays with the format of the show. For the people that do get on board, it is a thrill-ride. For those who are willing, Ladgrove takes us on a journey that is well worth the investment – even when asked to sing, chant or enrol on a bilge pump sales course. Audience members who pay close attention will appreciate his commitment to detail and as a result, many will be adding him to their list of worthy repeat viewings. A crescendo of gags ends the show after slowly being built for the best part of an hour. 

The only thing missing from the performance is a crowd big enough to appreciate it. A Fringe cult classic in the making.

Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove in: Edinburgh's Only Bilge Pump Sales SeminarHeroes @ Boteco (Basement), until 25th Aug, 6.40pm, £5-£7/PWYW