With a mop of shaggy hair, and a shirt just almost too open at the neck, Ben Verth strides onto the Monkey Barrel stage. With his right hand on the mic, the left gesturing emphatically, he begins to lament the empty rows of chairs which, after the hour, you can safely say were highly undeserved.
After a mildly strained ad lib with two friends in the front row, Verth becomes immersed in his show, which, as he admits, is just a white man complaining. Verth, like everyone really, is unashamedly not ‘living his best life’. Tormented by hay fever, hypochondria and fitbits, he trundles through his woes with natural hilarity and talent for satire. With a joking despondency, Verth’s sharing of his mid-life-crisis provokes a very particular sense of endearment.
He strikes the perfect tone when he’s being self-deprecating, avoiding the cloying aftertaste that often accompanies such humour. On a larger stage, Verth’s presence would still dominate, as he smoothly shifts between relaxing with one hand against the wall, and animatedly expressing his furious agitation towards holiday-goers and Scottish weather.
Verth’s exceptional moments are also his pitfalls. The niche British in-jokes, which brings some to tears of laughter, may bypass others who are not in the club. Whilst deconstructing the everyday is, indeed, the point of Sh*tegeist, clichéd pet-peeves such as hay fever and exercise would have been better used sparingly. Verth delivers these jokes well, but an original angle becomes almost impossible when they are fired in sequence. As he draws to a close, the callbacks are awkwardly integrated and feel tacked on.
For the most part, these critiques are just as Verth describes himself: petty. A few easy tweaks would have brought Sh*tegeist up a notch. This satire cleanly sidesteps becoming a depressing rant, and is instead an enjoyable hour, with some great moments.