MICHAEL FABBRI – DUMBING UP **** UNDERBELLY (VENUE 61)
LOOKING like an if.comedy best newcomer contender, Michael Fabbri has crafted an exceptionally funny and intelligent show about his stupidity. Oxygen-starved and forceps-delivered as a baby, dyslexic and with a genius brother, the 31-year-old has been waging a losing battle from the start. A terrible reader who won't watch foreign films because he can't read the subtitles fast enough, he elicits judgments throughout this hour from a conventionally recognised intelligent person in the crowd, a microbiology professor on the night I caught him, undercutting his authority but allowing this erstwhile special schooler to have his window and lick it.
His awkward, doltish Romeo inelegantly wooing the school thespian as Juliet is highly amusing and cruelly self-mocking, but the payoff is an inventively crude corruption of Shakespeare. For all the challenges Fabbri still faces, including trying not to wash his clothes in breakfast cereal, this dysfunctional comic seems extremely sharp, alternatively clever you might say.
Perhaps as a result, he maintains a refreshing approach to knowledge. While many of us may feign understanding of the Middle East conflict, he has no compunction admitting his ignorance and reliance on idiots' guides. Crucially, you believe this is true, not the false modesty of an ingratiating comic patronising his crowd. Moreover, by alluding to all levels of intelligence, he delivers a phenomenally good routine that begins with a report on China on a news website, then traces the reader comments as they contrive a shaggy dog story of ill-informed opinion. Diversions on to wedding reception invitations, evolutionist hymns, cunnilingus and child punishment break the theme slightly, but they're all superb routines and there's still time for the multiple old lady maiming incident that saw his headmaster call him "a f***ing retard", plus his appeal for the foundation of Twats Anonymous. Hugely enjoyable.
• Until 24 August. Today 9:05pm