Difficult subjects handled with impressive deftness
Another reason to visit the Hive, despite the smell of piss there. Perhaps visitors to this venue should be issued with posies of rose petals on entry.
So, Tim Renkow is making a name for himself as an emerging comedian of note, and this 40-minute set confirms this as such. He brings his cerebral palsy up from the get-go, unavoidable as it is. It’s because of this that that he speaks slowly, so you don’t get the usual rhythms and cadences of comedy.
You also don’t get the usual subjects of comedy with Renkow. For example, he used to know white supremacists back in Memphis (not because of his politics, but because they had the best coke), and he’s been molested, as have many disabled people, he says. He also talks about antisemitism and rape. So he’s venturing into areas that are high-risk and are so often mishandled by comedians. But Renkow handles them honestly and deftly, his comic antennae already sharp, and this bodes extremely well for the future.
There is of course material on his cerebral palsy as well, which features some lovely unexpected twists as he wraps shopkeepers and paramedics around his little finger.
When he opens up about a relationship he was in – he is physically not supposed to feel sexual attraction – you get a peek behind the joke-teller’s mask. It’s a touching section, and doesn’t feel like it’s been cynically included.
Hopefully there will come a point where Renkow is a comic who isn’t defined by his cerebral palsy. There will also hopefully come a point when his shows aren’t accompanied by patronising over-laughing by some people in the audience. There was some of that when I attended, despite the fact that he’s comfortably a good enough comic to not require this, and so matter-of-fact about his condition.
There were a few dud jokes, hence not quite reaching a full 4 stars, but nonetheless a very impressive debut.
Review by Paul Fleckney