Comedian. Doctor. DJ. New father. Matt Hutchinson is one busy fella, so his stint at the Fringe is something of a comparative rest for the man who is missing a trick if his musical nom de plume isn’t DJ GP. You’d be forgiven, given both the show’s title, and that the audience first meets a serious-faced Hutchinson scratching away on his decks to an old Pathé newsreel of the first immigrants arriving on the Windrush, for assuming this was going to be an intense hour by the multi-faceted comic. Not a bit of it.
As soon as the show officially starts, Dr Matt’s bedside manner kicks in and he begins a self-deprecating introduction detailing his Jamaican and English heritage, and a very comfortable middle-class upbringing that may not have been the norm for the ‘Windrush generation‘ to which his father belongs. He is an intensely charming presence and while he deals righteously with the betrayal of that generation by the government who promised them a better life, he leaves the fury to footage of David Lammy tearing the Tories a new one in Parliament.
Really, ‘Hostile’ finds a more circuitous and interesting route to introduce Hutchinson as a performer and as a person. It’s still very much a ‘debut Fringe hour’, but both his profession and his heritage are a road less travelled through this standard terrain. As a comedian Hutchinson relishes the juxtaposition between his image and the reality. He might look like he is ‘the voice of the street’, but only if the street in question is a leafy cul-de-sac in the Home Counties.
As he deals with subjects like class, race, and the NHS he stands out as a thoughtful performer with a penchant for the gently absurd. He thrives on the contradictions in society and within himself; his dislike for gentrification but his love of a good flat white, the social cache of his youthful DJ gigs being completely undercut by his mother driving him to-and-fro, and his mixed feelings about becoming part of the upper-middle class through marriage, and not being the principle breadwinner.
The transitions between his subjects aren’t always the smoothest and there is occasionally the sense that he’s crammed a little too much in and some his routines aren’t given quite enough time to breathe. However, as a debut hour, ‘Hostile’ is as satisfying an introduction to Matt Hutchinson’s life and comedy as you could with for. A thoroughly appealing performer with a pleasingly offbeat view of the societal structures that have shaped his life. As always for a debuting performer, it’ll be interesting to see which direction he will take for a sophomore show, but this is a splendid start. And if the additional multimedia aspect was all just a ruse to allow him to show off a few pics of his gorgeous family at the end, who can blame him?
‘Hostile’ runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Assembly George Square Studios – Studio Four at 14:30