Ah this is when comedy gets really exciting: a young comic realising their potential. Adam Hess was nominated for Best Newcomer last year and for good reason, but with his second show he genuinely looks like the finished product.
There’s a wealth of cracking gags and stories in Feathers, and they’re performed at his trademark breakneck speed. Hess is the comedy equivalent of a pack of huskies, all you have to do is enjoy the ride as he flings you this way and that. There’s no sense that he’s running away from you, as his material is accessible and quick to process.
An ongoing theme is the disapproval of his highly religious and comedically conservative parents, whose approval he openly craves. They pretend he’s dead at dinner parties, he says (his mind always goes immediately to the extreme in any situation) and are ashamed of his profession. He has some great gags on this, and his big meeting for the plum TV role that would change his parents’ mind is a brilliantly performed story. If they’re not watching him on telly as a result of this show I’d be very surprised.
Some subject matters are more obvious than others – his idiocy while on a date (virtually the entire show is about his idiocy) and his social anxiety are classic wellsprings for young stand-up comics but Hess’s joke-writing and his ability to make a normal sentence funny by sheer timing and delivery means the whole things feels fresh. He also has a very funny routine about eating a banana split, which is a first for me.
Adam Bloom and Mark Watson are obvious comparison points, because of all the nervous energy he’s constantly expending. It looks exhausting being Adam Hess, but it’s pure pleasure to listen to him.
Review by Paul Fleckney