Alistair Williams is something of a professional contrarian, the “token” white guy on the Quotas Full comedy podcast, routinely playing devil’s advocate. And a former advertising creative who gave up the house, car and empty relationship to earn £9,000 a year and live in a basement, kicking ineffectually against the comedy industry’s indifference.
Alistair Williams: Great White Male, Just the Tonic @ the Caves (Venue 88) ****
Dismissed as just “another white male” in his first review, he’s unfortunate, not so much to have emerged during the slowly creeping erosion of his tribe’s privilege, but to ever question why, in the drive for diversity, he has to be overlooked, for not playing the game as it’s supposedly rigged.
To qualify his perspectives on race and gender, he has a history degree that’s proved useful for little but stand-up. And he used to be in a relationship with a cage fighter, which affords him much the same, his willingness to subvert the conventions of male and female power evidence of a generally woke mentality.
Yet while he’s one of a band of comics using the Fringe to lament a career that he largely enjoys, he’s more thoughtful and analytical than most, taking issue with the stock racist voice that’s generally deployed in stand-up, a synonym for a certain type of unreconstructed, working-class man.
He argues, logically, that it was posher British tones that first decided to conquer the other nations of the globe, creating the enduring resentment of this country abroad.
Williams tends to trust his instincts and the evidence of his own eyes. And he’s persuasive, a skilled orator with a strong line in incredulity at excessive political correctness, knee-jerk offence-takers and lax zookeeping. He’s also winningly self-deprecating, his disproportionate fear of sharks informing his show title. Furthermore, in an interesting coda, he suggests that the first time the colour of his skin was used against him, it was black comedians that rallied round him.
• Until 26 August, 5:25pm