“ Pleasance Courtyard / 60 The Pleasance / Edinburgh. 03 Aug 2007 - 27 Aug 2007. 'If you only go to one show at this year's fringe, then don't bother coming to mine you tight gits! Seriously, it'll be funny!' Norman: 'exquisite stand-up comedy' Guardian, 'a natural-born comic' (Edinburgh Evening News) „
Its no sign of independence that Norman Holly Lovett even refers to his role in Red Dwarf within his solo show, the polar opposite of the I have done other things attitude so ineffectually taken by Leonard I Am Mr. Spock And Nothing Else Nimoy since the seventies. Norman had developed his miserable, dead-pan stand-up persona before being cast in Rob Grant and Doug Naylors sit-com as the ships irascible cockney computer, but he admits that most of his work since has consisted of travelling around the country to science fiction conventions to make some money off the back of this character, and meet his interesting and unusually dressed fans. Thats not to say that Norman has no integrity or inherent value as a performer, and in fact only around 95% of each audience will be there simply because he was the best Holly, before going to see Hattie Hayridges show at the Underbelly and telling her the same thing.
I saw Norman at my first Fringe in 2004 (because he was Holly, and I didnt know too many comedians), and he made me laugh quite a bit, though his material and approach were very strange; the only joke I can remember was him displaying a long plastic bag and saying something about houses using them to do poos in. This years show, which has been performed before earlier in the year around England, is quite different, and is essentially and honestly billed as Norman Lovett going through some slides and talking about them. Fortunately for all, its not simply his holiday snaps from Tenerife in which he is wearing a hat and then subsequently not wearing one, but photographs taken around the country, mostly over the previous year, of sights that have either entertained or seriously annoyed the comedian.
There are some attempts to draw parallels between the slides, and to craft overarching themes, but for the most part, as Norman admits at the beginning, its unpredictable. Aside from the presumably unintentional running themes of dogs and cars, simply because Normans family have two dogs and he takes lots of photos of cars, there is a fairly weak running gag of paranoia concerning a suspected alien invasion, which sees Norman labelling everything from unusually dressed humans to canopies as evidence of an impending take-over. These jokes arent necessarily bad, theyre just a little too out-of-character compared to the rest of the performance, where Norman has more fun analysing innuendo in slides and making up stories, such as the cause of a pregnant tree. It couldnt really be claimed that every slide is a work of genius, and its clear that some lend themselves to bigger laughs while others are simply there to illustrate a 60-year-old mans annoyance at something, but on the whole this is a nice hour of laid-back entertainment presented by a real veteran.
Despite Normans relative high profile, and the attendance of sci-fi fans with memorabilia for him to sign at the end, the preview show I attended on Thursday was quite poorly attended. Part of the reason was explained as an error in the main Fringe booklet which lists the shows starting time as 5.25 rather than the correct 5.00, which led to a few late arrivals, but its also because there are many more interesting places to be at the Fringe than a room upstairs at the Pleasance being shown some slides of a mans dogs that are family in-jokes at best. I was disappointed that this show had already been performed a fair few times, expecting it to be a comedians crazy Fringe experiment existing for one month only before vanishing, but instead it seems to be Normans main show at the moment, some of which has even been posted to YouTube. Its a fairly lazy show, despite the relaxed atmosphere and the genuine friendliness of Norman towards his fans, but not a Fringe necessity by any means. On the positive side, and the reason this gets a generous three stars rather than two, is the comparatively low price of this show even now that the Fringe has really kicked in, which gives it some allowance to be good, not great as Norman himself describes it. He claims not to have reached greatness yet which is quite amusing, but if he is any way serious then a more dedicated stand-up performance would be more the sort of thing I was interested in seeing. I hope Norman Lovett doesnt google himself and end up reading this, I feel mean now... but this show was a little too lazy for me, especially compared to the other great things happening elsewhere in the festival.
Norman Lovetts Slide Show plays at the Pleasance Two just outside the Pleasance Courtyard from 1st to 27th August (not 13th or 20th) at 5.00pm (not 5.25), lasting one hour. Prices are £7.50 to £8.50 (£6.00 to £7.00 concessions).
Next review: Richard Herring Oh F*ck, Im 40!
The Pleasance Courtyard (located at 60 Pleasance) has over 300,000 visitors, fourteen venues, six bars, three cafes and every kind of entertainment under the sun. It's little wonder that for many people the Pleasance is the Fringe. 'The best of all possible worlds' The Observer.