If not certainty, stand-ups at least tend to strive to project a strong persona.
Rob Oldham: Worm's Resolve, Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, Edinburgh * * *
But Rob Oldham doesn’t offer you even that crumb of comfort, instead drilling down hard and spilling forth his insecurities, unresolved dilemmas and existential angst. This year, he’s resolved to focus on morality in all its messy contradictions and hypocrisies, with the voicing of his frustrations unconvincing that it’s helping him deal with them. With a mischievous glint in his eye, he finds good in the recent death of Christian missionary John Allen Chau, a cautionary tale reflecting both religious blindnesses and toxic masculinity. Sharp at making connections between seemingly disparate phenomenon, at least to the extent of prising a laugh out of them, Oldham captures snapshots of his moods in prose poems, revealing his disturbed, racing inner monologue. He hardly requires the example of his Jewish war hero grandfather, and the man’s subsequent actions in peace time, to remind that morality is never straightforward.
The persecution of having to choose a path when you’ve rejected religion, politics and your friends is both Oldham’s curse and his blessing as a comic. For all his problems, he’s still curious, painfully relatable and self-laceratingly funny about his constant, nagging fears.
Until 25 August