Alfie Brown isn’t the only comedian at the Fringe berating his industry for catering to the lowest common denominator, but he may well be the one doing it with the least amount of grace.
During his show the 25-year-old comedian - imagine Stewart Lee’s attitude trapped in Russell Brand’s body - recalls how Ian Coburn, the man who runs the comedy arm of music promoters Live Nation, allegedly told Brown to “be funny, not clever”. It sounds depressingly like something that the mercenary agent character in Trevor Griffiths’ ‘Comedians’ would say, and it’s also a jumping-off point for a joyless example of Brown's uptight ire.
To round off the routine, Brown asks the audience to chant “but you’re not funny” at him when he shouts out “I’m clever” and then explains why this is a paradoxical catchphrase.
Earlier he has rounded up some people to play a Pavlovian pack of dogs, in order to manoeuvre them into a routine on semantics and paedophilia. Brown ultimately turns it on the audience, accusing them of being the thought police. We’re all potentially guilty, apparently.
His intentions here are noble, as they are when he deconstructs the gratuitous lyrics of Rihanna, the vacuous girl power sentiments of Beyonce and the trite filmmaking of Oliver Stone in the case of ‘World Trade Center’, but his delivery of them is coated in arrogance.
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