Edinburgh Fringe Review – Alexander Bennett: I Can't Stand the Man, Myself, Gilded Balloon, Patter Hoose

Edinburgh Fringe Review – Alexander Bennett: I Can't Stand the Man, Myself, Gilded Bslloon, Patter Hoose

Alexander Bennett might look OK. Tall, lovely luxuriant hair, assertive speaking voice. But as the canny title of his show suggests, he is not happy about himself. And he wants to tell you about it at length in this forceful show.

Bennett starts off with a funny and familiar tale of housesharing hell and the impossibility of getting on the property ladder if you are single. If only he'd stayed with his partner who had rich parents and had kids, he wonders. He may not have wanted kids, but perhaps two screaming toddlers in exchange for a house is not a bad deal in retrospect.

From there the story moves into the more personal area of Bennett's self-loathing. Despite initial appearances there is turmoil going on inside. He feels like even if he isn't fat he can never be the right body shape. His mind spirals around thoughts about all the wrong things in life.

I have to be honest. As much as I found Bennett interesting two thoughts struck me almost simultaneously about halfway through. Firstly that I felt as if I was being shouted at. Secondly that if Bennett had a neat haircut he'd be a dead ringer for a young David Cameron. I can see why he grows his hair - that would be enough to depress anyone.

At his best he evokes the spirit of early Johnny Vegas or Nick Helm, portraying himself as a hapless loser who cannot get anything right. If only he could be more confident. He pinpoints a childhood incident at a Robbie Williams concert as the moment where he saw someone who he felt had the confidence he could only dream of.

Class is also an issue. He knows he comes from a working class background and has done the BBC website tests to prove it, but he is still perceived as middle class. He has had therapy of course, but it still a work in progress (the man, not this show). 

You know what they say about inside every fat man there is a thin man trying to get out? Well inside Bennett's shouty show – which deserves an award for being the loudest show on the Fringe – there is a sensitive, gentle show about a fragile comedian trying to get out. 

I Can't Stand the Man, Myself isn't something that you will necessarily warm to, but it raises a number of interesting points about body dysmorphia, class and mental health. We need to learn to accept ourselves is one of his conclusions, otherwise people like Andrew Tate will tap into our insecurities and drive us in a bad direction.

Not always an easy watch but definitely never dull. Dark soul-bearing comedy mixing laughs with honesty that is almost too painful to hear at times.

Until August 27. Tickets here.

Read more reviews here.

three stars


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