There's a point right at the end of Steve Bugeja's hour that invests all that's preceded it with an emotional heft previously absent. The atmosphere in the room changes, and suddenly the humour's charged with sincerity that gives it a tangible edge. But it's a shame that this transformation comes so late, as there's little time left for its implications to be comically explored.
For preceding this has been an efficient but largely soulless routine. Bugeja's persona is that of the regular guy, and his comedy explores topics unlikely to offend or trouble. The overarching narrative recounts being stuck on a long-haul flight with a talkatave passenger in the next seat, but the digressions take in girlfriend woes, his fondness for trains, and the differences between the young and the elderly. All of this is proficently done, but sequences are sometimes longer than they need to be, continuing beyond their comic peak. There are callbacks that have the effect of evidencing a coherent narrative, rather than being comically surprising in their yoking together of hitherto disparate parts.
So it's a delight that there's a hint of something more potent in the revelation that concludes the routine. But by then it's too late. If he comes back next year with an hour that starts where this one ends he could have something with real vitality. The show is called Almost and this is apt, given the real comic matter is ready and waiting, almost but not quite on display.