Benjamin Crellin: Apocalypse Soon

Article by Lyle Brennan | 15 Mar 2010
  • Benjamin Crellin

It’s the opening night of the Glasgow Comedy Festival and, somewhat perversely, Benjamin Crellin kicks things off with the end of the world. Peddling cynicism and subversion from the tetchier side of left-wing politics, this doom-mongering Kiwi moves over well-trodden ground, his poise and venom allowing a carefully crafted show to throw up flickers of brilliance.

After a shaky start, Crellin gathers momentum, breezing from religion to science to war with almost seamless flow. A shrewd take on the hysteria and hypocrisy of today’s moral majority produces some well-received diatribes, while a finely tuned sense of irony enriches a show full of ideas.

As the set drags on, though, the cracks begin to show. For the most part, Crellin proves himself capable of cerebral and savage ridicule, directing it where it’s most certainly due.  But he struggles to sustain this, occasionally lapsing into facile sarcasm and poor taste. To approach this act with anything but a thick skin would be pointless, but when his attack on gung-ho Allied troops somehow veers into a misjudged mockery of the disabled, it only highlights how important it is for intentionally offensive comedy to stick to its intended target.

Ultimately, the crowd isn’t quite supportive enough for the dramatic pauses and the more confrontational material to hit home. Comedy as overtly political as this always runs the risk of alienating its audience – tonight, it’s a challenge Crellin meets with limited success.