As we move ever faster through August and it becomes clear that Coronavirus didn’t receive the Edinburgh Fringe memo, at least we can celebrate the fact that thespaceUK are presenting upwards of eighty online shows, including Jacob Hulland’s So, This Virus Walks into a Bar.
The silver lining in all this has been an unprecedented look inside the homes of the performers, who once brought to the stage with them no more than their material but who now proudly plonk themselves in front of their bookshelves for the world to scrutinise. Hulland is one of many to have done so, yet it’s a shame that a full view of his bookcase does him more harm than good.
Adorning the shelves are volumes by The Two Ronnies, John Cleese, Monty Python – all comedy greats but of a certain school of humour which is best left in its contextual era. So, it’s a shame when the opener is a joke straight out of their pages, about an instant swimming pool, for which the punchline is, “just add water.”
Possessing a keen ear for regional accents, Hulland is at his best when providing fictitious audio commentary for nonsensical indoor sports invented during lockdown such as Nose Armageddon. Loosely holding such segments together though is an evening news format reminiscent of The Mash Report, a show which has continued to air from the hosts’ homes throughout lockdown and to which Hulland’s act looks occasionally too familiar.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing one’s influences on one’s sleeve, and even less wrong about scripting a whole new show around the very thing that has shifted the comedy landscape for the foreseeable future. However, they say modern problems require modern solutions. Hulland will no doubt find his voice throughout all this, but right now the unprecedented state of the world only spotlights the fact that his jokes are from an age gone by.