Adam Hess is one of those comedians you feel like could just walk on stage completely unprepared and absolutely kill for the whole hour. What a treat then that in his new show, My Grandad has a Fringe, he comes prepared with some hilarious anecdotes, ideas and observations, told through pictures, video, text screenshots and 90s tv theme tunes.
Hess tears through an impressive number of jokes with his trademark frenetic energy. He tells us stories about his technologically clueless dad, his devoutly Catholic mum, his awkward childhood, bad dates he’s been on… The material is hardly introspective, instead opting to find whimsy in the banal aspects of his life.
Though he doesn’t really do one liners, I was put in mind of Mitch Hedberg of how seriously he takes the frivolous and mundane. For instance, he shows the clip from Home Alone where another kid waves at him through a window, and he gets just about as angry as I’ve ever seen anyone about anything about how it’s clearly not really that kid’s hand. And he’s absolutely right. Why would they use a kid that can’t wave?! WHY?!
The crowd work doesn’t really go much further than asking someone’s name and making fun of them for taking too long to answer. (When someone responds with their name immediately, Hess lampshades this, saying, ‘I shouldn’t really learn what to do next shouldn’t I?’), but Hess responds well to anything that’s thrown at him. A prominent leg-slapper in the audience prompts some funny material about how at a show his mum once tried to slap his dad’s leg but slapped something else entirely. The door of the venue was left open, which caused some funny interactions with people outside.
The show’s planned ending of a game show where Hess has to correctly spell words chosen from a dictionary seemed a little half-baked and unnecessary, and didn’t seem in the spirit of the raw unpredictability of the show’s spirit that makes it special. However, considering the volume and quality of material in this show, it could be pound for pound one of the best shows you could see at Edinburgh this year.
Main Image Credit: MATT CROCKETT