As part of Glasgow International Comedy Festival 2018
Opening by telling us the show is a “work in progress”, throughout Alex Kealey never lets the audience forget this. Excited to see “which one of us is the more disappointed” by his gags and seemingly finding them always wanting, there is a ton of self-deprecation on display here. “It’s not all political rants and anxiety,” he seems genuinely amazed to discover at one point: “I can do a silly joke”. However things end up being more serious than genuinely comedic.
Quite why this is the case is down to a mix of material and style. Looking at everything from Brexit (brilliantly arguing “do you love money more than you hate immigrants?” was the choice faced by the electorate) to capitalism and polyamory, there are a lot of brilliant observations in here. He seems very confident on political matters and comes alive when describing how he uses The Economist as “capitalism’s diary” to gain an insight into what the enemy is thinking. However at times it feels more like a political discussion as opposed to comedy, a fact which perhaps saw a “sparring partner” in the audience continually asking him questions on the various points raised.
Sections where Kealy focuses on his personal life verge on the heartbreaking and inspire more pathos than humour. His mission to oh-so-casually find KY Jelly late at night in Tesco is genuinely funny but undermined by worrying that any happy relationship in his life will be revealed to be a Truman Show-esque sham. Similarly the comedy in his antics to hide the fact he is looking up flats online is rendered uncomfortable when it’s revealed it’s all to escape passive-aggressive flatmates who bitch mainly about him via a WhatsApp group chat. Kealy conveys such an aching well of sadness underneath the humour that the comedy evaporates: you genuinely want to get up on stage and give him a big hug.
Kealy presents as an erudite, geeky and very endearing chap who looks at things from a slightly shifted perspective. The title is a perfect example of how he will express something in an intelligent way which you don’t quite expect. But the material at times seems to come more from a sad place than a happy one, a fact which his anxious and rather un-confident delivery doesn’t turn into a comedy plus point. He’s never boring and is so personable he’s certainly an entertaining, watchable figure. But as stand-up this doesn’t quite make the cut.