What have we learned during the Fringe of 2016? For some, it’s that the phrase “excuse me” becomes inaudible; for others, it’s when the mass of a baked potato is worth more than gold. For sure, though, there’s a decent chance a Brexit joke will result in an aggravated audience member and some heckling. Scott Agnew handles this like an utter pro, explaining the differences in opinion and that oh so surprising aspect at a stand-up routine; that it’s simply a sarcastic expression of twisted wordplay for humorous effect. It’s a joke. Three minutes in and we’re off to a banging start ladies and gentleman.
Homegrown, Agnew injects that unique paradoxical blend of Scottish pessimism with optimism to the Fringe. The routine is self-deprecating but interactive enough for the audience to get involved and chat along. As the title suggests this is less a stand-up and more just a talking session. In truth, it feels like an AA meeting, just with more remorse and a lot more alcohol. There is no shying away from the crowd as Agnew opens up about his sexuality, the responses of such and the acknowledgement of his own fans (tribeswimmin).
HIV is a fun topic, isn’t it? How about homophobia, delightful no? Scott has an ungodly ability to turn his mind to the darkest of societies issues and (sadly still) taboos. It’s one thing to discuss these topics,another to make jokes. It takes talent to create genuinely humorous punchlines which leave a sting in the audience. They hit hard for a reason, Agnew has no malice in his humour (despite what some audience members may take away). These topics aren’t just easy targets but act as personal outlets in a brutally forthright manner.
Agnew’s set is uncontrolled, but not in an energetic fun way, instead, it seems more like Agnew cannot keep a train of thought running for a punchline. There’s no structure to the routine, which isn’t a disaster, so long as there is at least a reason or alternative to humour which there often is. Pacing is the other issue for an otherwise unblemished hour. Regardless though this is Scott Agnew, it isn’t a put on or performance. It’s a raw and intimate routine which deserves your full attention.