To what extent can we identify movements in comedy? Perhaps rather difficult at the Fringe where there are surely a multitude of acts to suit every taste. Yet, watching Sy Thomas brings to mind the likes of Ivo Graham and Phil Wang over at the Pleasance. Nice young men; not aggressive. Not abusive to the audience. A little safe. Who is to blame for this? Michael McIntyre? What can we call this movement? What about “The New Amiable”?
Thomas practically apologises for the act to follow, as (to paraphrase) a ‘middle-class white man moaning about being lonely’. It is his debut full-length show he informs us sheepishly, and he’s a little stressed. Is he trying to get us onside? Perhaps, but alarm bells ring regardless. When he sidles into a routine about how hard it is to be a nice guy, it’s apparent this is not just a drill.
And yet. And yet. As the show goes on, one begins to go with it, like finally giving in and throwing a ball for a cavorting puppy that has bounded up and dropped it at your feet. Thomas has an innate likeability and a sneaky charm that gives him a bit of a pass. He is a perfectly decent comedian, and like so many acts this year is really switched on regarding multimedia, and uses it cleverly to embellish his anecdotes and illustrate his emotional flight-of-fancies.
His lack of confidence (exaggerated though it may well be) is played for laughs, but one wonders how long that is a viable avenue to explore. Eventually he is going to have to step up and deliver material that is less hackneyed and find his own voice. There are probably far less talented comedians getting better reviews at the Fringe this year, and he is a talent, but that makes the unadventurous material less forgivable.