Spanish/ Welsh comedian Ignacio Lopez is a UN conference in one body. As well as his Iberian and Welsh roots, there is also Irish, Moroccan, and German heritage. It’s no surprise then, that his first full-length show El Cómico – though it’s by no means his first appearance at the Fringe – is concerned with the immigrant experience. It’s a reasonable calling card, but perhaps one that should have been handed out earlier in his twelve years on the circuit.
Lopez is a charming and affable figure; quick to tease his audience, but insistent of stopping way short of any genuine offence. He starts strongly, with a cheeky dig at irate locals who resent the yearly invasion of the city. ‘I grew up in Mallorca!’ he chides, going on to say he would have killed for just one month influx per year of Brits guzzling Stella and roasting themselves to leather outside an uprooted approximation of a flat-roofed pub in Stockton. He also establishes a neat running gag about the British love of preparing for practically any activity with ‘pre-drinks’.
However, the show stays in this one pleasant but slightly sedate gear for the entire hour. Lopez sticks to his subjects of immigration and the perennial outsider status this inflicts. He’s honed and polished this material over the years for sure, as he approaches this central theme through a range of variations, like a jazz performer riffing and embellishing before returning to a foundational melody. It simply lacks a certain dynamism. There are no real lulls throughout, yet no real crescendos either.
It’s a brisk and breezy, and Lopez is clearly excited to perform to a full room. Early on he finds common ground with a young girl who is delighted at the chance to join in with some light fun at her father’s expense, and returns to her frequently for her opinion on various matters. It’s a sweet and inclusive touch for a comedian who is clearly aiming for as broad an audience as possible. While this is entirely laudable, it does give the sense that there’s something being held back. As with his habit of deflating a jibe with a clarification that he’s just taking the piss, it rather blunts his material. Yet, if this is that young girl’s gateway to a life-long love of comedy, then surely he’s doing something right? It would however be interesting to see how he deals with material not tarnished by familiarity. As it stands, it risks stagnation.