Self-proclaimed nerd Harry Baker has returned to the Fringe, this time to (ostensibly) celebrate turning 10,000 days old. He’s combining his two loves – maths and slam poetry – to explore multiple themes, such as mortality and his belief in humanity’s capacity for good.
Baker tells us an anecdote connected to each poem, which neatly separates the show into segments. These stories range from the humorous (such as his year abroad in Germany) to the touching (discussing his mother’s cancer treatments), and introduce each poem perfectly. They also bring cohesiveness to a piece which could otherwise become disjointed due to the large tonal shifts that each poem provides.
It’s clear to see why Baker was named the youngest World Poetry Slam Champion in 2012 – his poetry is a masterpiece, both in rhythm and content. The wordplay is so clever it takes the audience a couple of lines to notice, but when we do, we’re gasping with both disbelief and laughter; this is especially apparent in Paper People, where there are so many paper-related puns that we can barely keep up. It’s not just slick, however – Paper People also has an uplifting and profound message which starts the show off on steady footing.
As well as being an excellent poet, Baker is a natural comedian – his dry retelling of a rap battle between him and English teacher Mark Grist, who has his own show at the Fringe, is hilarious in its improbability. The same is true of his Falafel-Löffel poem, which combines the creativity of the German language with Baker’s own genius, with excellent results.
I am 10,000 is perfect for those who are already fans of slam poetry, but equally suitable for those who want an introduction to the genre – it’s a powerful combination of accessible and accomplished, with not one syllable out of place.