Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Below
This is the show that trigger warnings were made for. Rich Hardisty has been through a lot. Anorexia, bipolar and borderline personality disorders, self-harm, and heroin abuse. He is, in his own words ‘clinically mad’ and this show walks his audience through his history with mental health.
This is a very impersonal show about personal issues, Hardisty can knowingly take a view with hindsight and disconnect. He is very self-aware but perhaps isn’t aware of his audience. He reminds us a few times that ‘it’s ok laugh’ without quite providing us with any funny material. At points his routines are just a compilation of uncomfortable stories and 80s references that sub in for jokes.
There are good potential shows peeking out in Silly Boy but none come to fruition. Hardisty is clearly a good comedian but has written a bit of a bum show that doesn’t quite know what it wants to do. We’re shown a funny series of slides about Hardisty tracking down his estranged Dad through quite a amusing series of events; I hope he can develop this from eight seconds to an hour.
His style is light and anecdotal, and his topics are bleak – he’s in the key of Russell Howard but playing one of Richard Gadd’s tunes. It’s an important challenge to present this material but it’s also important to form it into a coherent and funny show. There are funny surreal asides about depressed peacocks and clever call-backs to rollerblading. It’s a bit of a mishmash of styles that’s hard for the audience to follow as there’s little continuity – is he a surrealist, a story-teller or a documentary comedian? Which bits are the funny bits? He expects us to laugh at him, but we’d rather laugh with him.
At the 40-minute point the show comes to a natural end, where Hardisty then performs a dance to some flashing images from film and TV from the 80s to the present day, a means of explaining what it’s like to be in a manic phase followed by a very funny, tightly written and performed conversation with a god-like figure.
By no means is this a miserable hour, it’s just not a consistently funny one. Hardisty presents promise, but this might be one to miss right now.
Written by: Richard Hardisty
Produced by: Mick Perrin and PBJ Management
Rich Hardisty: Silly Boy plays at EdFringe 2022 until 29 August. Further information and bookings here.