Edinburgh Festival review – Josh Howie

The enigmatic stand-up is at it again …

Josh_Howie6After last year’s blistering gag fest that tripped over itself in looking for laughs, Josh Howie has softened things up to a degree, with a simpler show in which he gets the audience to assess how much of a dick he is.

He presents three scenarios – one involving his wife’s poo, one involving a woman in a park and one involving a treadmill confrontation – on which his dickishness is evaluated, interspersing the stories with jokes and relying on his wit to whip up some decent banter with the audience.

Howie can’t help himself but be provocative, testing our barriers with his scatological openness and our sensitivity to subjects such as 9/11, domestic violence and the holocaust. He likes to press buttons and get away with it on the quality of the punchline and a cheeky smirk.

On the whole it works, but Howie remains an enigmatic comic who earns more like admiration than outright guffaws. I love his mischief and on paper he’s a superb gag writer, has natural timing and delivery, and is bold and honest; and this show has a perfectly robust structure and engaging premise. What more do you need?!

Or rather, what holds this show back? I’m not entirely sure, Howie seems perfectly at ease with reining in his relentless joke-telling and it’s an hour that whizzes by without ever really fizzing. So I’m afraid this is a review that will ask more questions than it answers, and alight upon a solid …

3.5 stars

What the punters say

Daniel, Newcastle: 4/5. “It was mainly funny, not as funny as when I saw him at a normally comedy show when he was telling loads of racism jokes.”
Joe, Newcastle: 4/5. “He was doing more jokes than stories at Best of the Fest and I’d give him 9.5/10 for that, but I did enjoy this too.”
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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