Liquid Room Annexe, Edinburgh
We’ve already seen JJ as an actor in the brilliant Blind Date Project, so we thought we should catch him in his more regular role as a stand-up. He’s on the free fringe this year so when we take our seats, he’s busily moving furniture around and assuring us that ‘the show hasn’t started yet,’ something that seems to be a recurring motif this year – though in this case, it’s actually true.
He launches confidently into his routine and his lazy, Canadian-inflected drawl immediately draws the crowd into his stories and what he likes to call his ‘Jokey Jokes.’ He’s a likeable presence on the stage with a wide-ranging selection of topics to draw on. I particularly liked a routine in which a stupid friend (now an ex-friend) keeps repeatedly electrocuting him in the shower, while his observations about Edinburgh and the Scottish people benefit from the fresh perspective of the outsider’s eye. Some of the routine is sexual in content (be warned, this is listed as a 16 plus event). JJ makes a remark about ‘knowing your audience,’ but his description of Axl Rose’s comments to a pole dancer at an after-show party are, for my money, one of the few misfires in this set. Other people seemed to love it though, so maybe he does know his audience, after all.
At one point in the proceedings, a young woman in the audience suffers from a sudden bout of coughing, which throws him off his stride a bit. When he inquires if she’s okay, her friend advises him to ‘stop making her laugh!’ Which, when you think about it, is priceless. JJ dubs today as ‘Dry Cough Monday.’
He soon recovers his equilibrium and comes back with an amusing true story about the television in his hotel room. Like all gigs on the free fringe, the audience are invited to throw money into a bucket at the end, but unlike some others comics, JJ is giving something back – a USB card featuring some rarely seen footage.
This is good stuff, well worth checking out. If you want a seat near the front, get there early!
Review for Letters from Mindy
This is an unexpectedly sweet show. So be aware that, having shelled out for the tickets, they will not get you angry JJ, ranting JJ or wild boy JJ. They get you a new JJ – and he is quite delightful.
This show is structured around the eponymous “letters from Mindy”. I might be too cynical, but I don’t think they are real letters. They represent possible reasons for JJ’s girlfriend dumping him. Which she did, by phone. Emotionally scarring, of course, but he did what all good comics do and turned the experience into comedy gold.
The Icelandic volcano, Phil Nichol and Cindy Crawford’s mole all feature in this tale of a man coming to terms with rejection. Along the way we get angry squirrels and cheeseburgers, vibrators and casual sex. And every so often we get a little comedy diamond, just to remind us that it takes more than the emotional devastation of being suddenly and brutally cast adrift on the cold, lonely waters of singledom to get a good comic down.
JJ’s explanation of the workings of the male memory and the part sex plays in accessing stored information is quite brilliant and makes great sense. His comparative analysis of male and female arguing styles is hilarious.
It is a beautiful sight in a comedy gig to watch people combining the nod of recognition with the roar of laughter. There was a lot of that going on as JJ expanded on his lack of patience with younger women and his “fake moveage”. This is one of the most structured shows I have seen him do, and he does it very well. Mention should be made of the technological aspects – I don’t want to give too much away, but there are props and there is even what might be termed a “special effect”. This really is a delightful show, probably the gentlest of the late-night comedy offerings. It is well worth leaving the bar for. Dear Mindy, big mistake, but thanks for a terrific show. All the best, Copstick.
We’ve all been stranded in our lives, whether it is for an hour or a day. But we are rarely stuck the other side of the world in the midst of a global travel crisis – which is where Jason John Whitehead found himself due to an Icelandic eruption.
Opening his show Letters For Mindy with this dilemma Whitehead lays down the context which saw himself arrive back into the UK three weeks late from tour to find himself single after being dumped by his girlfriend of five years.
Laying down on the foetal position to mimic his time on the psychologists couch, Whitehead takes us through the travails of being cast aside and coming to terms with it.
However Whitehead is not the kind of comic who can keep a show downbeat for long, and quickly finds his rhythm by deconstructing his own story.
By splitting the recovery from a break-up into five separate stages which include shock, denial, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance, Whitehead follows the cycle of how it feels to be stranded emotionally, rather than simply physically.
A lot of people can mistake Whitehead’s natural enthusiasm for niavety, which is unfair. Whitehead exudes a positive desire to entertain, much more so than the visceral style of comedy which we have become more accustomed to in the live circuit.
But within that enthusiasm lies some well worked material. Skipping from how to spend an afternoon thwarting the best laid plans of a telephone banker to the different ways men and women console their recently dumped friends to why society tells people that they ‘need’ to act adult Whitehead extrapolates from his core theme with ease while never deviating too far from his central point.
The journey that Whitehead took was one of recovery, which, is far harder than simply traversing the globe and it is one which we’ve all had to take at one point or another. Packed with good one-liners and excellent material Letters for Mindy is well thought out and well delivered show.
The Motion Online – William Jackson
He delivered a punchy set from the off that wouldn’t have been out of place in the o2 arena. Clearly Jason is a master of schoolyard and teenage comedy, regressing the audience to nostalgic years of high school and university. The highlights were ‘discipline Dan’, a parents’ super-hero who would come down and beat their ‘things’ (children) when they misbehave, saving them the hassle of child abuse and social services. Sounds crude? It was brilliant.
Whitehead performed for about an hour and a half and kept the room alive, charming the audience with his refined school boy comedy. He lures you into thinking that you haven’t paid to watch him but you’re just having a drink with a highly entertaining friend at the pub. This is a man who shouldn’t be overlooked.