Adam Hess comes running up onto the stage to kick off a high-energy and fast-paced comedy performance. With a more traditional take on a comedy show Hess has few props, preferring to entertain mainly through observational comedy and recounting his unknowingly metrosexual upbringing. Growing up with two older sisters, he appears to be the butt of many jokes as he plays the part of their life-sized doll to dress up as they please, much to the displeasure of his father.
Many of the observations glean laughs, although Hess often doesn’t pause enough to let the joke settle and milk the reaction. He moves too quickly through the story in an attempt to keep up the pace, but in doing so starts to lose the audience as they try to keep up with his references and piece together his observational quips. The few times he slows down a touch, the jokes flow more easily and the whole room feels more relaxed. A great example of this is Hess’s story around a past Christmas, where as a child he produced a questionable Christmas drawing for his parents. As the story goes on Hess gains momentum, but starts to speed through the material so that the final punchline laugh and audience applause never come; Hess has built so much pace that he skips the climax of the joke and leaves the atmosphere slightly flat with the awkward ensuing silence.
His interaction with the audience is a mixed bag too. In the front row, I am a prime target for some of his gags – whilst I enjoy our little chat about The Sound of Music (his favourite childhood film, much to his father’s disdain) I’m not sure that the rest of the audience feel the same. When Hess picks up on this he doesn’t move smoothly on, but becomes a bit flustered by the lack of laughter and awkwardly stumbles through into the next topic. Thankfully the next topic proves more successful and his recollection of carrying a Tesco fish home as punishment brings the atmosphere back to a comfortable level again. That is, until he brings an audience member on stage to read some one-liner jokes whilst putting on a mask and playing some handheld bongo drums. This sort of works until the man in question returns to his seat and gets too many further awkward “what do you do?” type questions from Hess. He doesn’t quite know when to stop and move on.
It’s nice to see a stand-up show without too many bells and whistles, but the risk here is that any sub-standard material will stick out. Overall the material is fine; Hess’s presence and timing need more fine tuning.
Salmon plays at Heroes @ The Hive (venue 313) until 31 August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.