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May 28, 2018 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Joshua Kingsford: Bear With Me

Joshua Kingsford’s Comedy Festival show really bugged me. His gangly frame jaunted onto stage, with all the charm and naivety of a newly-born red haired giraffe. His set was full of light-hearted jokes about being a ginger, his dad’s post retirement life being totally subsumed by The Chase, and bumbling Facebook messenger banter with women he allegedly claims he would never talk to in real life. Yet, despite this innocent and inoffensive persona, I felt as though as there is something decidedly capital “W” White about this show. His jokes were transparently white middle class. Kingsford’s set was laden with observational humor about his life and his experiences, but he described them as if they’re universal. He came across as earnestly believing that he is recounting everyone’s shared experience.

I want to be clear; I’m not trying to have a go at anyone here, or be a provocateur for the sake of it. I just feel in a climate where the entertainment industry (and I believe stand up comedy has its place here) is striving so hard to be diverse and to tell the stories of the marginalised, to be a white middle class male comic and to not address the fact that you are, is to presume that your story is still the dominant one.

If there was an underlying theme that runs throughout the show, it would be that of Kingsford’s relationship to technology. He lamented that it’s slowly divorcing him from the rest of reality, all the while trying to find common ground with the audience by appealing to the technoholic in them. This, in my opinion, is a fine theme to base a show around, however Kingsford never gave the audience their due, even as he tried to forge this connection with them. Jokes about video games being all about “mushrooms and killing people” felt and fell flat because the audience didn’t buy the simplification. I want to think that this is intentional and that Kingsford just isn’t prepared to take a big swing just yet, not comfortable sharing honest opinions without dumbing them down for an audience.

The show had a disjointed feeling. It seemed as though Kingsford was still trying to figure himself out as a stand up, and he wasn’t yet willing to engage with the sensibilities of the young millennial crowd that make up his target audience. I don’t necessarily think the show was bad, just that there was a lot of room for improvement.


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