Swede Tobias Persson, apparently about to turn 40, though with the youthful demeanour of someone a decade younger, has hit upon a timely topic, one that’s especially ideal for a decent, well-mannered comedian like him: what’s everyone so offended about these days? Civil rights used to mean racial equality, now it means getting a proper wifi signal; and if we don’t get it, boy are we angry.
Persson picks out the absurdities of this situation, with thoughtfulness and an air of polite bafflement. Why does everyone hate on Bono? He’s just raising a bit for charity. Why do we feel we deserve luxury items? We can get by with less. He’s so damn reasonable and rational and right, it’s sometimes hard not to just sit there agreeing with him, rather than laughing along.
Given that, the set’s at its best when this air of liberal tolerance falters a little, when we glimpse a little bite behind it, whether that be touching on an offence some of the audience themselves might take – he mimics a woman who has taken issue with being “judged” as beautiful, for example – or betraying inner cynicism, such as his possibly non-altruistic intentions for giving to charity.
There’s some very good visual sequences – one showing the ridiculousness of taking offence at objects, one showing some brilliant Charlie Hebdo style cartoons. It’s just a shame he’s in this place, at this time. With its fancy cornice and ballroom vibe, Stand 6 could be one of the more atmospheric of the Stand’s auxiliary rooms, but half-empty on a Tuesday lunchtime with a mild-mannered man showing you pictures and lingering slightly too long on the factual, it does unfortunately feel like a conference break-out session. In a club setting, contrasted with other savager comedians, you may seem him best; he is an affable, urbane guy with a bright, distinctive comic voice.