Jarred Christmas is asking for trouble if his show isn’t deemed to have passed critical muster, given the title of his show is an open goal. Christmas has been a comedy fixture for far too long for this to be the case however. He’s more than confident enough in his own abilities so Remarkably Average stands as a challenge for any journo lazy or jaded enough to go for low-hanging fruit; of which more later. The Chortle Award-winning compere does what he’s done so well for years, and instantly begins establishing a rapport with an enthusiastic chap at the front. It sets the mood for a relaxed, fun atmosphere that lasts the whole show.
The title refers to Christmas as a person, specifically his ancestry. Formerly convinced that he was partly of Maori stock, he took a DNA test to found our for sure, as well as finding out whether the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease that afflicted his grandfather was likely to loom in his future too. Frustratingly for him, he’s of 100% European stock, mainly British. This leads to a gentle probing at his own identity, interspersed with some fun facts he’s accumulated through his love of a podcast as company on those long, lonely drives that are the lot of a professional comedian. For the most part, Remarkably Average bounces along in merry, if unspectacular fashion.
Then comes a tale about having to go on stage after a vertiginous German drag queen has raised the roof at a festival in Slovenia and Christmas suddenly changes a gear. He becomes even more animated, acting out the routine in eye-watering detail. His physicality is utilised to great effect, along with a rendition of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams in a Teutonic drone of a singing voice. He paints a great glittery picture of both the drag queen’s show and the deathly silence that descends when he ambles on stage as her err, low-hanging fruit have just departed. It’s undoubtedly the highlight of the hour and a lovely piece of flamboyant theatre.
It’s impressive then that his switch to a more sombre mode of drama to give the results of his tests doesn’t deflate the atmosphere. Instead, the collective breath is held as the verdicts are delivered, demonstrating Christmas’ gift for keeping a crowd onside. Of course, the irrepressible Kiwi dials things up again for a big finale that utilises more “low-hanging fruit” and practically demands everyone leaves with a smile on their face. Remarkably Average is a very decent hour elevated by Jarred Christmas’ exuberant personality and skill with an audience.