Pursuit of Crappiness

Sometimes you have to relish in life’s slip-ups, make light of the bad situations and turn the depressing points of life into positives. In an hour’s lecture of how “crappiness is happiness”, Moj Taylor brings his own brand of positive realism to an intimate audience. A self-confessed North Korean Jesus look-alike, Taylor exudes brash confidence and hits the audience with an intense set of questions right from the start. The whole set feels a bit like a lecture around social convention and the public’s moral compass. Taylor highlights how social media and corporate greed has reduced the value of customer service, how his research into the concept of ‘crappiness’ is worthy of merit and how a typical life can be summarised by a series of these moments. Despite presenting a case to the contrary, you can’t help but feel that this a show about schadenfreude: Taylor finishes with an example of others laughing at his misfortune, but all in all the routine focuses on situations in which he can pick out the flaws in the rest of the world.

Taylor does have an ability as a comedic storyteller, using analogies to bring to life the concept of his research. The funniest of these occurs in one of his past comedy performances, where he describes how a French audience member misinterprets the Scottish toilet signs of Laddies vs. Lassies. The naturally endearing character of the French woman is brought out here; the audience can laugh not only at the schadenfreude in her horror at seeing semi-naked Scotsmen urinating against a wall, but also at Taylor’s ability to spin the story to fit his theory. However, there are times when Taylor’s insistence to explain and justify ‘crappiness’ become too intense – it’s been a few years since I was at university but I remember that academic lecture format, complete with fully functional PowerPoint slides. Taylor must be praised for his dedicated research; not many other comedians would conduct an Ipsos MORI poll on the audience to build statistics that fuel the material of the set. The results of past and present public opinion are then reported on – whether and why the general public considers their lives to be less than perfect.

The whole set is unbalanced – scientific research is offset with some awkward comedy and the one-sided socio-moral statement is not unlike the preachings of a cult leader. But Taylor is fairly erudite and has moments that the audience chuckle at, which make the overall routine slightly more bearable.

The Pursuit of Crappiness plays at Just The Tonic @ The Caves (Venue 88) until 29 August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.