Review: Russell Hicks: Love Song for the Viciously Ambitious

Comic riffing that seeks salvation but never comes fully alive

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Russell Hicks: Love Song for the Viciously Ambitious
Published 12 Aug 2018

"This is not a show; it's a quest for spiritual salvation," says Russell Hicks. He rails against soulless comedy in this scattergun hour, instead searching for the perfect gig that can be considered art. It's a laudable goal, and one day I guess he might just get it.

But at the moment everything's a bit uneven. Most of the set is improvised, responding to interactions with his audience. While these initially seem aggressive, he flips between insult and concern for emotional wellbeing in a manner that is intriguing and disarming. But this patter never hits the heights it might, mainly because he doesn't give punters enough rope to hang themselves, meaning he has little to play with. These conversations are always on the verge of letting fly, but Hicks flips to another topic before fully exploring the last one. So the whole show remains piecemeal, and where he calls back to earlier exchanges these feel forced rather than serendipitously alive.

He's an intriguing performer, who starts off seeming to be another aggressive, in-yer-face trouble-maker, but who latterly reveals a more thoughtful and caring side that offers a productive counterpoint. But riffing off audience interaction requires more inventiveness and control than is on display here, and so often he resorts to shouting to round off a routine. Maybe on some days the show sings better than others, and it's possible you'll be there the time it becomes the collective salvation he seeks.