Jokes About Things catches 18-year-old Hawick native Scott-Thomas D. Redmond (real name?) in the process of finding his voice. He’s worked up a visual style – there’s something of the Murray Lachlan Young dandy poet about him – and there are the beginnings of a distinctive attitude. But he’s nervy, rushing through lines, executing ridiculous, grating shifts in volume and adopting a prematurely defensive tone towards the audience that tonight, really doesn’t do him any favours. Rather than front up to his inexperience – an audience can forgive a young guy’s nerves – he brazens it out, and quickly extinguishes any love in the room.
His stock in trade is brief, punning poems, often on the topic of romantic abandonment or death, accompanied by a sidekick on guitar (although this appears to be more of a crutch, a case of strength in numbers, rather than a creative necessity). Plenty of puns do cut the mustard, producing ripples of laughter around the basement room; the influence of Milton Jones seems evident. The pacing is slightly out, however, and the pauses for laughter overlong.
Pun-based comedy might not be the settled will of this comedian either. Twice, he breaks into straight stand-up, including a routine about meeting Alex Salmond as a rep of the youth Parliament, a diversion which suggests lack of confidence and clarity of direction. He’s OK at it, or could be with time and calmer thought, but right now, he needs to pitch one way or the other. Any mixing of styles just adds to the sense of loss of control. At one point, he wanders dangerously towards performance art, talking nonsense and changing costumes; it provokes a flurry of walkouts.
Five minutes of stronger material in the right setting could be quite effective, keep the audience onside, and allow him to develop the spark he obviously has, but an hour, even in a minor free venue, is way, way too ambitious for Redmond right now. He’s been badly advised.