The “most pro-Brexit show on Fringe”, which is, at most, ambivalent about it, is this PowerPoint comedy, delivered slickly and professorally by Gareth Morinan.
It has the feel of a busman’s holiday. Morinan’s a data scientist, which is the kind of sexy geekery that could pay enough for you to summer in Edinburgh, snazzing up the day job with a few gags here and there. But he’s also been on the Fringe Society board for a while too, which suggests a more long-term commitment to the performing life – a comedian using data analysis to pay the bills, rather than an academic with a comedy sideline. If that’s the case, Gareth, forgive us.
All the same, the whiff of the lecture hall is never far away. The humour is mild amusement rather than belly laughs. But it’s definitely not a lecture you’d skive off. It’s well structured and pacily delivered. There’s also enough “oh yeah, good point” moments to justify its existence in a sea of shows about Brexit, and its American cousin, Trumpism. It’s what might happen if John Curtice had Peter Snow‘s energy and an eye for the funny side.
He uses pyramid models to show how political messaging works – what underpins Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, for instance, that makes it so effective? He also shows how election results could have been predicted purely by observing memes – he/she who is the most meme-able wins the war. It skims the surface of political science for insights like this which will have you nodding along in realisation, but makes sure the chuckles are never far away either. He uses Google search data to make both a serious point about the relative interest in different politicians, and a comical one about their relative importance to other things people might search for online…
Among the Brexit graphs, there’s also a compass graph of Fringe comedy, on which he places himself, with great self-awareness, as somewhere between “lectures” and last year’s illustrious resident of this room, Richard Gadd. In so doing, he’s summed up his own show perfectly. Nothing so whizz-bang or genre-changing as Gadd, but certainly nothing that would have you nodding off at the back of class.