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Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! (Soho Theatre, London): Review

most original and funny joke

Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! is anarchically funny, but with a subversive and devastating wit that trumps its punchline.

Gabriel Bisset-Smith tried to tell us his greatest invention: the most original and funny joke in the universe! But when it doesn’t go down as expected, Bisset-Smith tells us the story of how it came to be. Because context is everything, right?

Most funny and original joke

I ate too many Galaxies. Gabrielle Bisset-Smith in ‘Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe!’. Photograph: Courtesy of the performer.

Concept

With a show name like Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! there’s an expectation of either ill-conceived hubris or wry irony, as well as a desire to make Twitter users fume. On the very superficial surface of it all, it might appear to be the same the same ego-intensive dross that you’d expect to go under the radar at some forgotten fringe venue. But, this is Bisset-Smith, one half of Guilt & Shame, and this is at the Soho Theatre, so there’s at least the suggestion of at least modicum of a benchmark.

From the moment Bisset-Smith comes on stage, dressed in bling and with music blaring, as quickly as the evening descends into banterish mayhem, you always get the feeling that there’s something deeper behind it all. This is because Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! isn’t a stand-up show per se, even though it is dressed as one. What it is a clevery presented piece of solo theatre mixed with elements of stand-up comedy, that starts to tell an unexpectedly deep story about originality and the fear of obscurity. Whilst you’re there whooping, wailing, and crying with laughter, you’re unwittingly reeled in with by an absorbing and well-paced personal narrative, even if it is lavished with surreal and outlandish episodes of audience interaction and use of interactive multimedia. The end reveal of the subversion that Bisset-Smith has been peddling right under your nose ices the evening and challenges your perception of genre and format, as well as where you thought Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! was going and how you perceived it. it’s a tale that’s full of loss, regret, and fear that is as hilarious as it is soul-bearing, and an incredibly satisfying and intriguing solo theatre twist on the stand-up comedy format.

But for all its quite smarts, Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! is first and foremost and incredibly funny show. Atop of Bisset-Smiths inextinguishable energy, the comedy goes from wryly sardonic, to balls-out millennial Pandemonium and laddish bawd. It does come across as a bit immature at first, but that’s actually part of the bigger joke. If you stick with it, you find that beneath the hyperactive childish antics are razor-sharp satires and send-ups that take no prisoners, and are achingly funny and sometimes devilishly risque.

Direction & Production

What’s really interesting about Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! is the amount of production that has gone into the show. Sound, lighting, and video media are woven into the show to add a real sense of variety and energy to the show, meaning you’re seldom bored. it also gives Bisset-Smith an opportunity to add plot drivers and characters without increasing its resources. Overall, there’s a pacing that really fizzes and keeps your attention from start to finish as your attention is always chaperoned towards something different and new every so often. Whereas some comics find it difficult to stay fresh for a full hour, Bisset-Smith’s imagination and variation of style and mediums makes this a very fulfilling and comprehensive piece of entertainment.

Performance

Bisset-Smith is a crowd-worker of top-rate pedigree. From the beginning of the show, Bisset-Smith ensures you’re with him and part of his story with energy and charm that is unequivocally infectious and joyful. Bisset-Smith’s ability to respond with the audience and never against means that even some of the most unexpected things Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! rolls expertly with the punches and feels terrifically dynamic. But, underneath it seeps a very subtle sense of vulnerability in his character that he’s trying to get across in this show. You might not realise it when it happens, but Bisset-Smith is actually an excellent and emotive storyteller that, among the brassy comedy, portrays and projects a more deep and complex character than you’d ever except to find in a show like this, really adding an x-factor that marks this out from your usual comedy fayre.

Verdict

Outlandishly funny, madcap, yet unexpectedly intelligent, Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! marks Bisset-Smith as a comic performer that is more than the sum of his parts, who manages to massage your mind as well as desecrate your diaphragm.

Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! was reviewed at the Soho Theatre, London, W1D 3NE, on 30 April 2016. For more information about Gabriel Bisset-Smith, visit www.gabrielbissetsmith.com.