Leo Reich, Literally Who Cares?!, Edinburgh Fringe review: Obnoxious, narcissistic – and impeccably funny

The 23-year-old wrestles with his own privilege in this must-see debut show, writes Isobel Lewis

Isobel Lewis
Monday 15 August 2022 08:18 BST
Leo Reich’s debut show, Literally Who Cares!?, is playing at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August
Leo Reich’s debut show, Literally Who Cares!?, is playing at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August (Raphael Neal)

I’m in my mid-20s and Leo Reich’s comedy makes me feel old. On stage, the 23-year-old is high energy, dramatic and incredibly obnoxious, flitting between total self-loathing and unspeakable confidence as he delivers a sparkling debut hour. Reich is distinctly Gen Z, having grown up online. He says he first watched hardcore pornography at the age of 9 and speaks almost entirely in clichéd social justice buzzwords about “the emotional labour of knowing stuff about things”.

Narcissistic and annoying, right? That’s probably what Reich wants you to think. Literally Who Cares? is a show all about him – his childhood, his identity as a gen-Z bisexual man, his status as a “ripped hunk”. He’s already prepared for inevitable stardom: he reads from the weighty tome that is his future memoir and the film scripts that will one day make up a biopic about his life.

But it’s his impeccable comic timing and astonishingly high gag rate that prevents the comedy from being actually insufferable. Every line is a stand-alone joke, meaning you’re still reeling from the last when the next hits you. Original songs are interspersed to allow the audience to catch their breath and, while they’re not quite as funny as the spoken sections, they allow Reich to show off his genuinely impressive singing voice. The last song reminds me of the closing number from Bo Burnham’s special Make Happy, if Burnham was considerably more self-obsessed and said things like: “I’m investing in a carbon-neutral therapist.”

Reich’s privilege is a running theme in the show. He may not explicitly mention his Oxbridge past (like many Fringe comedians past and present, he’s a former Footlights member) but constantly references the fact that he still lives rent-free in his parents’ fancy west London flat. His class status is less the elephant in the room than the really talkative elephant in the room of people obsessed with looking at elephants.

But while Reich’s on-stage persona may be unlikeable, he’s totally arresting to watch. He swaggers around with his microphone cord draped dramatically over his shoulder, dressed in a pair of short shorts paired with dramatic eye shadow and a top that reads “MISBHV”. Part of the fascination, I suspect, comes from trying to figure out how much of this is an act he’s putting on for this show and how much is the real-life Reich. You might find his self-obsession infuriating but you’ll struggle to look away. I doubt this will be the last we’ll see of him.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in