For all that he’s checking his notes on this first day of the Fringe, new father Andy Stedman has got himself a nice little show here, all about the lessons he’s learned from having his nipper Freddie, and all the lessons that in turn he’ll teach his son in the future.
So he offers a poem of all the advice he’ll give to the teenage Freddie, hoping he’ll do the opposite. There’s a letter he’ll pass on in the event he doesn’t live to see Freddie grow up. And there’s lots of songs – a school-based Jam rip-off That’s Education, the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me? repurposed as dating advice.
Everything flows nicely and Stedman sticks faithfully to his theme, even managing to work it in his bucket speech (one of the cleverer methods you’ll hear this year). It’s material made to measure, not just an assortment of unassociated gags cobbled together to make an hour. Some darker punchlines don’t register with today’s audience of older families and students, though, which doesn’t help Stedman hit his stride. It might need a more Fringe-sharpened audience for them to really land.
The bumps will no doubt be ironed out as the Fringe rolls on, and hopefully August will be a good one for him. The only thing really lacking here is the zing of real originality. Stedman’s a personable bloke who has a way with a comic lyric, but he doesn’t stand out from the pack stylistically. It might take some pushing and pulling at the edges, some exaggeration of particular traits to give the audience more to latch on to. Is there any more to Stedman than the everyman dad figure he is projecting?