Russell Howard - Adventures

Russell Howard blurs the line between fact and fiction, suggesting a winning strategy for the England Cricket team

archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 04 Aug 2007

Russell Howard is obsessed with people. Including himself. Playing the bemused observer, Howard revels in the absurdity of human behaviour and interaction, reliving moments of unexpected hilarity generated through a chance encounter or an overheard snippet of conversation. Using an effective combination of storytelling and comedic mime, along with a healthy dose of self-depreciation, Howard recounts amusing incidents involving himself - a drunken decision to email erotic pictures of himself to an ex-girlfriend, his childhood penchant for pushing marbles up his brother's anus – and others, including a young boy's reaction to a potential suicide jumper: "Do it you gay!" Howard's non-judgemental analysis of human behaviour is free from the cynicism generally associated with observational comedy, and his charmingly innocent performance joyfully embraces the unexpected oddities of life.

Chaotically springing from one subject to another, Howard embellishes and imagines different conclusions to his stories, blurring the boundary between fact and fiction to comic effect. A comment from a religious leader which relates the recent flooding in Britain to the nation's lax attitude towards homosexuality becomes a winning strategy for the England cricket team, who, Howard suggests by the same logic, could "bring on the rain by bumming."

Fully justifying his self-diagnosis of ADHD, Howard bounces around the stage like a frantic child on a sugar high. Though his irrepressible energy captures the attention of the audience, the breakneck speed of Russell's delivery detracts from the quality of the material as he relentlessly spews out one anecdote after another, barely pausing for breath.

Unfortunately the successful comedic pattern of Howard's act is compromised by the all-too-familiar media-bashing material which he wheels out towards the end of the show. Similarly, Howard's weak attempts at interaction with the audience threaten to disrupt an otherwise slick performance.

However, these small flaws should not detract from the lashings of brilliantly funny anecdotes and quirky observations that make this show both uplifting and entertaining.