For a red-headed comic, Ginger is the New Black is an excellent play on words and a catchy title. In his third outing at the Fringe, James Wilson-Taylor attempts to convince us that it’s also grounds for an entire comedy show, as well.
After opening with a tribute to / parody of the ginger man whose stock is perhaps highest right now (Ed Sheeran), Wilson-Taylor quickly sets out the stall for his show: a one-man attempt to banish all myths about gingers in just under an hour. He runs through the list of insults he’s accrued in his life, before dispelling falsehoods that gingers are unattractive, vampires and, worst of all, fiery. En route we gain a glimpse into his adolescence (and more recent history) through a series of hilarious anecdotes and clashes with partners, family members and friends over the colour of his hair.
Wilson-Taylor also shows off a musical flair, regularly taking to the ukulele or keyboard to accompany himself on silly ditties that he’s crafted in order to communicate his message more melodically. His pastiche of Harry Potter is particularly entertaining, though things threaten to veer into cringe-worthy territory when he tries to rope the audience into a dance-along. In the main, however, his songs are clever and cohesive, representing the strongest part of his show.
Its weakest part is the singularity of its dimensions. While Wilson-Taylor may have filled an hour with his anti-anti-ginger ramblings, it all becomes a little tedious before the end and shows that the subject is simply not meaty enough to sustain a whole show. The deviation into a spin-off game involving Katie Hopkins and Adolf Hitler is an unnecessary distraction which eats up time but doesn’t really contribute anything original or insightful, all the while giving more exposure to two people who really don’t deserve it.
Those blessed with a reddish hue to their hair might relate more to the show or be able to identify with Wilson-Taylor’s pain, but for the rest of us, the joke wears thin long before time is up. Nevertheless, it’s still an enjoyable enough hour which never takes itself too seriously or runs off the rails.