Norwegian comic Viggo Venn possesses that rare gift: a command of the stage and a comedic demeanour so powerful that he can have an audience in stitches with just a simple flick of the eyebrows or a funny gait. In his debut solo show at the Fringe, he introduces us to his comic creation Pepito, an eccentric cucumber-loving individual with a stuffed snowman for a friend and a penchant for phone calls.
It’s bonkers. None of the material even begins to resemble sense; presumably Venn must have put pen to paper at some point when dreaming up his show, and if you stumbled across his writings, you’d mistake them for either the doodles of a four-year-old or the ramblings of a madman. Somehow, though, it works. He just exudes hilarity from every pore; not only is he charming in his infantile gimmicks, he’s genuinely hysterical.
Much of the show depends on audience interaction, which is a risky gamble for anyone. However, that doesn’t seem to figure in Venn’s show; since the entirety of the show is threadbare in substance, he can win through despite (or perhaps even because of) the least charismatic or most timid audience member. As he relies on his own likeability for the vast majority of his laughs – and he’s got it in spades – it doesn’t matter if those he selects drop the ball.
Herein lies the rub, however. He’s a comic genius, but his material doesn’t do justice to that genius. Alongside the frequently revisited audience participation element to the show, he also props up his hour with an over-reliance on the constitution of a cucumber, an elaborate mime gag involving a trip to space and other similarly inane shenanigans. It’s funny, but it could be so much better if the show contained a stronger direction and more diversity in its comedy.
Having said that, it’s still well worth an hour of your time, but it’ll be interesting to see where Venn can go with his undeniable talent. Just as Pepito’s quest to reclaim his tomato has proven, the sky’s not the limit since he’s already gone past that – his potential is celestial. Here’s looking forward to what Venn (and Pepito) deliver in the future.