Jordan Brookes has a louche, long-limbed physicality, a frame he delights in contorting and distorting to illustrate his disquieting stories. That looseness could be said to extend to the theme of his stand-up show I’ve Got Nothing, which flirts idly with a metaphor about climate change and the end of the world, but never long enough to verge on having a serious point. In fact, in an era as grim as our current epoch, its terribly pleasant to spend an hour watching a show that is wilfully silly, a man who, instead of fretting over political woes, instead tells a series of shaggy dog stories and indulges in faux strops when the audience recoils at a description of his malformed monstrous childhood.
While the theme feels loosey-goosey, and Brookes himself makes heavy weather of how ambling and shambolic the show is, his ability to play the crowd is precision honed. When he affably turns against an audience member, the rest of us mock boo in solidarity, a stare-down with a stoney-faced audience member ends in triumph for Brookes as the man breaks first. Brookes ability to ensure we are with him, even as he is pushing us away with theatrical tantrums, is masterful.
There’s an absurd acuity to his observations, as when he refers to himself as a hipster Nosferatu, or the aforementioned metaphor he uses to obliquely discuss climate change (too good, of course, to be spoiled here, but it’s a touch spicy, if you’ve a delicate constitution). His distinct physical appearance – tall, angular, very bald, is deftly exploited throughout to comic affect.
That the show never coalesces into having a sense of direction, a narrative, a point, is by design, and as an hour it passes in consistent, sometimes belly-deep, laughter. If it feels somewhat ephemeral – and it does, dissolving like comedic candy floss – then who are we to chide: After all, isn’t the world about to end? Brookes just wants to go down swinging.