Comedy review: Arthur Smith – Mindlessness: A Beginner’s Guide

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You never know what to expect from an Arthur Smith show – and there is a very good chance he doesn’t either.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

The former wild man of comedy, long standing compere of the original Comedy Store, has morphed into a philosophical sage, whose shows are as much performance art as they are comedy. Smith has created a Museum of Socks at the Pleasance Dome to accompany this show and also, cleverly, to remind people he’s performing down the road.

There’s a recurring sock motif, he introduces us to his muse Walperga the Giant and gives us a twelve-step guide to Arthur Smith’s philosophy of Mindlessness – which is basically a celebration of under achievement.

As well as the gags, which are plentiful and effortless, there is an unexpectedly personal side-story from his own life. His philosophy, which also includes a theory of laughter, is genuinely thoughtful and grounded in experience.

And there’s always a touch of theatrical fairy dust with Smith. The comic illustrates his lecture with soothing sounds and relaxing videos which have a strange subliminal effect on the audience – inducing a genuine feeling of deep calm. It’s a Fringe oasis. Peace with added laughter, if that makes sense.

Until 21 August. Today 1pm.

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