Decrying the Fringe's preference for comedy shows with a message, Adam Rowe nevertheless sets his stall out clearly, lest he be misunderstood.
Adam Rowe: Pinnacle. Just the Tonic @ The Caves, Edinburgh * * * *
Pinnacle is about “cancel culture” and he's keen not to become part of it, embracing diversity but stating that it has its limits, limits he's going to test. “Stop whinging” he berates those he perceives as over-sensitive.
Life isn't black or white. Testing the water with with a celebrity paedophile gag, he protests the virtue-signalling seeking of “clapta” rather than laughter, whereby comics seek to reassure an audience rather than surprise or challenge them. Getting to a salient point, he admits that he can no longer separate the art from the disgraced artist in question. Everyone draws their own lines. His mitigating argument for the reinstatement of Louis CK's reputation, at least as a performer, rather glosses over the importance of consistent personas for comedians. But he's surely correct to suggest that stand-ups are in a particularly invidious position concerning the giving of offence.
Notwithstanding the seductive frisson of taboo that is. With sympathy for the devil, Rowe finds a root cause for British Islamophobia beyond pernicious media narratives, cracking wise about 9/11. And he ventures onto the perennial minefield of declaring an inherent difference between men and women, a pyrrhic quest as it requires him painting himself in the most unflattering light. He revisits a routine from last year, shifting the tale closer to home, pegging it on the interesting question of when a sexual preference becomes prejudice. And to his girlfriend's displeasure at least, he leaves it open-ended.
Throughout, Rowe is careful to contextualise and see all sides of debates, setting up his closing, potentially controversial remarks about the representation of fat people - a group he identifies with. Self-consciously edgy, punchy, this is another irrepressible and articulate hour from a rising talent.
Until 25 August