Generally speaking, there’s a tacit understanding between audiences and comics that not everything they say on stage is 100 per cent true. Even if the performer in question isn’t trading in surrealism, we’re usually happy to suspend disbelief and let some far-fetched details slide if it makes for an entertaining tale.
Gareth Waugh: Honestly? ***
Equally though, there can be a thrill if it feels like an act is giving us the truth unvarnished, warts and all. This is the twilight zone into which Gareth Waugh has pitched his ambitious debut show. Honestly?’s conceit is that he tells two sets of stories, alternating between microphone 1 and 2, and only afterwards reveals which routines were true and which were fiction.
Nicely set up with a video of the Edinburgh-born comic struggling in a lie detector test, establishing his beta male personality, he’s an amiable and assured storyteller.
Most of his routines focus on him being out of his depth, be it with women or drugs. But with the greatest of respect to Waugh, so few are outside the orbit of most people’s experience that there aren’t many “surely not!” moments. And you wonder how such a show might fare with a bohemian adventurer comic like Phil Nichol or Phil Kay.
More problematically, the back and forth between mics blurs as a device and it becomes tricky to keep the two sets of tales distinct in your head. Still, with greater thought given to stage presentation, I could see this becoming a decent Edinburgh Fringe debut.