Given his exceptional gag writing talent and charismatically nervy stage presence, I wasn’t as blown away by Adam Hess’s award-nominated debut last year as some.
Star rating: ****
Venue: Heroes @ The Hive (Venue 313)
But for all that he comes across as a mentally maladjusted oddball, there’s no doubt that he’s developing into a potentially outstanding comic.
Unusually, his expertise spans both the writing of marvellously pithy and inventive one-liners with the unfolding of absorbing stories, escalating tales of both relatable social awkwardness and unique idiocy.
There are a couple of familiar stand-up prompts, the disapproval of his conservative, Christian parents and the breakdown of his relationship. As explanations for his more recent behaviour and the opportunity to cast himself in a sympathetic light, they’re nevertheless justified by an impressively high hit rate of jokes.
Depressed after his fiancée broke off their engagement, he experiences a long night of the soul and existential crisis with a banana split, before embarking on his principal tale, his stumbling romance of a girl he’d known for years. Proceeding from his gawky approach at a party to cackhanded online flirtation, you’re willing him to succeed even as he makes a mess of it.
In between, he shares a story of being interviewed for the television show he hopes might persuade his family that his comedy is worthwhile.
A memorable depiction of over-thinking every aspect of the most basic human interaction, it’s recreated here by Hess in mortifying, hilarious detail. All told with his usual breathless delivery, these anecdotes, and the insights we get into Hess as an inveterate comedian, covertly but furiously scribbling jokes under his teenage bed covers, make for a giddy mood of irresistibility, carrying you along with his impish wit and infectious humour in the face of personal disasters.
Until 28 August. Today 4:10pm.