The Fringe can be a tough gig for comedians. With an audience spoilt for choice on both ticketed and free shows, sometimes you sit in a show with only a few other people and see the look of disappointment in the performer’s eyes. Under these circumstances, it is not advisable to insult members of the audience to the point at which they walk out. Mat Ewins didn’t get that memo. At first everyone thinks this is some sort of intensely arrogant ruse that the audience members are happy to play a part in. Then an awkward silence descends on the room, Mat finishes seething and attempts to move on with his set. Of course he’s lost his place and so fiddles with his notes – a nervous tick that is apparent throughout the show.
The whole routine is designed around Ewins’s hate for his day job at a pie factory in Plymouth. He paces around stage in an ill-fitting suit as he vents about his life, his job and his inability to win the annual pie factory talent contest. He uses an app that lets him sample sound bites from the microphone and piece them together in more hilarious combinations. The first time the app doesn’t work and asks him to renew his free website subscription it feels funny; it seems like Ewins is showing the audience why he never seems win that talent show. Then it happens again. And again. It’s start to feel less like a gag and more like poor preparation that the audience start to pity.
I start shuffling in my seat as Ewins puts on a variety of different hats to show his numerous talents that he is testing for the next contest – a Hell’s Angels biker sings about grapes; a mind reader/ hypnotist turns an audience member into a dog; a double act between himself and Colin falls apart when Colin fails to turn up. All of these things could be funny but end up feeling a bit sad. He has one joke that garners a genuine audience reaction, about a microwave, but other than that the set is a mixture of awkward characterisation, awkward pauses and awkward, polite laughter. The concept of producing a hilariously bad routine is there, but there needs to be some hilarity injected into it. Otherwise, it’s just bad.
Day Job plays at Just The Tonic at The Caves (venue 88) until August 29 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.