Review: Ed Night: Anthem for Doomed Youth, Pleasance Courtyard

5.0

Ed Night is something else. He’s not in his late twenties, he’s not from a cushy background and he doesn’t dress in button-up shirts (at least, not on the night I attended his show), and therefore he is different to most of the straight white male comedians you get at the Fringe. Instead, he’s a mere 21 years of age and from Streatham in South London. But most remarkably, his stand-up is some of the cleverest, funniest and most unassuming comedy I’ve encountered at this Fringe.

The title of Night’s show is also the title of a famous poem by Wilfred Owen about the boy soldiers of World War I. Night explains to us that his agent liked the idea of comparing those early twentieth century boys to the doomed youth of today, but that the show doesn’t really have much to do with its title – ‘No, of course I’m not saying zero hour contracts are as bad as the Somme!’

With his low-key but self-assured delivery, Night is immediately likeable. In the cosy space of the Pleasance Courtyard’s Bunker 1, he makes us feel like we’re all just having a chat. His comedy is insightful and, even in the (intentionally) low-brow bits, has a meaningful core – which he then, of course, proceeds to cynically dismiss for comic effect. He shows great self-awareness, managing to look like everything is just occurring to him when really, he’s always got the next line at the ready to take apart the last.

A perfect mix of political and observational comedy, Ed Night is just as funny talking about the gentrification of Streatham and the sloganisaton of black culture in the UK as he is telling stories about memorable house parties and his persisting singledom. Infuriatingly young, he shows great comic talent and ability to make use of different types of humour, keeping an audience of a very wide age range consistently entertained. And he ends the show by asking us to all go and kill ourselves. Well, that’s only sort of true. But he did ask that it be put in a review.

Ed Night: Anthem for Doomed Youth played at Pleasance Courtyard until August 28th. For more information, see https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/ed-night-anthem-for-doomed-youth.