Review: In Real Life

William Fitzalan-Howard 15 November 2013

9.30pm Mon 14 Oct 2013, Corpus Playroom

Having just come from a rather heavy talk on the merits of modern Humanism, Jamie Fraser’s In Real Life seemed like just the thing to lift the spirits and drag my mind from the depths of theological gloom. Sitting in a sweltering room, we were initially treated to a short biopic of Jamie via powerpoint and his disembodied voice, where he explained his childhood shock on discovering his namesake – the protagonist of an erotic novel. This made an amusing and original start to his show.

Jamie proceeded to add to the thousands of effusive yet ironic welcomes the freshers have received, and then launched into his own critique of modern internet culture. As stand-up goes, observational comedy is hardly the most original, but it was refreshing not to hear from a middle-aged man talking about his children or wife, but instead about something which certainly seemed to engage most of the audience (even those who didn’t use snapchat). I think everyone was grateful that interaction with the audience was minimal and artfully done – it is painful if a comedian makes a room feel like an especially nervous physics class, with everyone trying not to be asked a question, and this he didn’t do.

He did, however, manage to introduce his family who were present to the audience, saying that the situation felt to him ‘like a cross between a school play and a nightmare’.  Jamie seemed particularly keen on his similes, ranging from comparing cat youtube videos to ‘like watching an adorable Sisyphus’, to quipping that the internet was like an Old Testament god: “It giveth and it taketh away”. Some were about as effective as a cat flap in an elephant house, but most were genuinely funny and original, even if the subject matter wasn’t.

As with most audiences, mild xenophobia towards the French was received very well, as were the self deprecating remarks about his “Siri-like” voice, which were necessary if nothing else to get the audience to concentrate on his jokes rather than trying to work out where his accent came from. Most seemed willing to forgive his occasional stumble or reference to notes, and I think most on the whole heartily enjoyed themselves.  It was good he stopped when he did though – he was running out of internet phenomena to mock and the audience were beginning to suffer heat exhaustion.