The man sitting in front of me is furious. His dislike for Johny White Really-Really's hour seems to have moved beyond displeasure and instead he appears affronted by the very existence of the show. But then the man to my left is guffawing throughout, his eyes wide as if discovering something new and precious. The audience is split throughout the gig, a good chunk clearly bamboozled, with others revelling in what's on offer.
The divide is caused by Really-Really's lyrical, poetic, unsettling delivery, which refuses to simplistically tell the audience when and where the next joke's coming from. The structuring principle of many of the routines begins in observational comedy, about awkward dates and awful stag-dos. But they quickly mutate into something else, in which a studied use of language conjures up imagery creating a world that seems as if it's almost the one you live in. But it's also more chaotic and paranoid than that, and there's a spectacularly nasty sequence that literalises the fear that friends don't have your best interests at heart. He keeps returning to foundational moments in his life that all seem to take place either in 1996 or 2012, giving those years an unexplicated dread. This is his Fringe debut, and in its detail it evidences real comic craft, and an authentic and novel voice.
It's rare to see a comedian seem to enjoy so much the pleasure he's giving to (parts of) his audience. As for the angry man in front of me – his loss.