SkinnyFest 3 -Terry Alderton

Feature by Jonathan Liew | 14 Aug 2006

God knows, life is full of awkward silences. The one after you've just mistaken a large woman for a pregnant one remains a personal favourite. But Terry Alderton well and truly steals the crown tonight. On learning that a member of his audience is Israeli, Alderton leans over him and sings: "ALLAAAAAAAAAAAH!" in the style of an imam calling the entire population of Riyadh to prayer. "Do you like Muslims?" he then asks him, as a room of people attempts to bury its face in its hands.

In fact, Alderton's entire set is characterised by its uncomfortable silences as he, by his own admission, deviates so far from his scripted routine that his prepared material becomes a sideshow to his intrepid freewheeling and audience interaction. Some of this improvisation works, a lot doesn't, but his courage can't be faulted. When he starts to lose the audience, he has his incredible vocal repertoire to fall back on, including, but not limited to, monotonal South Africans and Ibiza-based house and drum 'n' bass MCs. It's a thoroughly weird, often baffling, but occasionally inspired performance. Alderton is a man who's clearly bored of his Zoo-reading demographic and seems intent on dividing opinion.

Terry Alderton - Divinely Discontented, Pleasance Courtyard, Until August 28, 22:20, £12/£10.50 (£11/£9.50).