Comedy review: Jacob Hawley: Howl, Just the Tonic at The Mash House

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Middle-class dominance of the Fringe is one of its great festering wounds. But occasionally a comic begins picking at the scab.

Jacob Hawley: Howl, Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Venue 288) ***

Jacob Hawley opens his first full-length show at the St George’s Day parade in his native Stevenage, a tableau of all he finds problematic about his working-class roots.

Some deconstruction of the St George myth puts distance between him and the bigots he knows, but it’s weak, workaday material compared to what follows, a more nuanced portrait of a conflicted 26-year-old man.

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Disgusted by the lad culture he once embraced, Hawley’s nevertheless proud of aspects of his class and more ambivalent about drugs, his artistic pretensions and occasional movement in posh circles never obscuring the likelihood of him going mad for it with something to snort.

Although signed to one of the comedy industry’s most powerful management companies, he’s a thoughtful, committed socialist. An Arsenal fan, he’s genuine in his admiration for former Spurs striker Gary Lineker’s stance on immigration.

What some comics would consider irreconcilable and gloss over, Hawley fesses up and explores, his analysis of his internal culture clashes the most attractive aspect of this promising hour.

• Until 26 August, 3:40pm.