Tom Mayhew @ Just the Tonic, Mash House

Tom Mayhew's Edinburgh Fringe show is a rousing call to arms for working class comics

Review by James McColl | 19 Aug 2019
  • I, Tom Mayhew @ Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Tom Mayhew is unabashedly working class and it's a topic that has taken him a long time to talk about. In an industry and festival overrun with middle class acts, it is a relief to see anyone that doesn't fit the bill. In I, Tom Mayhew, his working class roots and continuing struggle dominate the conversation. When it comes to talking about these issues, Mayhew is passionate, articulate and – above all else – hilarious.

Mayhew was unemployed for three years after dropping out of university. Stuck in a system that punishes the poor, he found himself in a poverty trap. The fight to remain a part of an industry he loves has been all too real. For Mayhew, stand-up has always been the goal. His jokes are punchy, sharp and forthcoming. His onstage presence is disarming and welcoming and despite the often weighty subject matter, laughs are never too far apart. Mayhew, for the most part, balances the two with precision.

Whether you are desperate to see someone talk candidly about working class issues or not, Tom Mayhew delivers. The fact that I, Tom Mayhew is one of the few shows discussing working class experiences here at the Fringe is a worrying and growing trend. The crowd is behind him for the entire show, willing him on. 

Come the end of the hour, our laughter turns to anger as an impassioned Mayhew boils over with righteous fury. He is angry at a system that has unfairly punished his hard-working father, angry at a system that has made it harder for his family to survive if he moves out, and angry at a system that is rigged against people like himself succeeding in the arts. It brings an already charmed audience together behind Mayhew, whose comedic voice should be heard, even if you don’t want to hear it.

I, Tom MayhewJust the Tonic @ The Mash House (Just the Bottle Room), until 25 Aug, 7.30pm, £5/PWYW