Pleasance This, Edinburgh Fringe
PIERRE Novellie first put his hirsute head over the comedy parapet in 2012. He’s been getting better and better (and slimmer) since — and now he’s blowing the roof off the tiny crate-like space of the Pleasance This with a show packed full of belly laughs.
Suave, velvet-jacketed Novellie was born in South Africa, raised mainly on the Isle of Man, and is an alumnus of Cambridge Footlights. Yet for all that, he’s relatable. He’s had his fair share of being the school whipping boy, for instance (you can’t avoid it when your class is studying from those fabled, cringe-inducing Tricolore books and you have a French first name). He’s been on dates where he’s preferred the food and his own company to the forced superficiality of the scenario he’s in. And he’s known the agony of having to grapple with a minefield of political correctness when it comes to disability in an intriguing little nugget of teenage autobiography.
He acknowledges there’s no link between all these observations. But they link seamlessly. And they’re impressively well written, perfectly building and building and rich with detail — each topic could be a full show on its own. Novellie delivers it all with real astuteness and skill, at once relaxed and arresting. And, refreshingly, he wears his smarts on his sleeve — he’s as comfortable referencing Nietzsche and Prometheus as he is dirty burgers and Budgie the cartoon helicopter.
Rarely has a performer left us wanting more: as Tricolore would say, this is très, très bon.