ADAM HESS once noticed that a baby had dropped a toy at a bus stop. ‘I went to pick it up to give to the mum, I guess because I thought selfishly it would make me look noble or something,’ he recalls. ‘But as I went to pick it up I realised it was a Scotch egg. I was so embarrassed I just held on to it. I still find that so funny. But there’s no universe in which anyone would say I’ve got this really good bit about a Scotch egg at a bus stop.’
He’s being modest, of course: Adam is a delightful stand-up who excels at spinning comedy gold out of absurd glimpses of everyday life, as anyone who follows him on Twitter or has seen him on Live At The Apollo or Tonight At The Palladium will know.
Whether he’s talking about how, as a little boy, he didn’t realise you shouldn’t wear knee-high socks and school shoes with your swimming trunks round the pool on holiday, or musing that it’s weird to take commands from two people who have to sit down to send a text (his parents), he gleefully condenses observations and true stories into ludicrously perfect vignettes.
Unlike a lot of comics who structure their shows around complicated narratives and themes, Adam is very much focused on delivering non-stop joy. ‘I’m obsessed with laughs per minute,’ he says. ‘I really enjoy the silly stuff. The comedy I like is escapism — stuff that doesn’t really matter. I don’t think I’ve got anything new to say about anything important, but I do have opinions on pineapples and how I think it’s weird that they’re sold with the thing on the top, because you don’t need it and it takes up a lot of space in the truck.’
Creating comedy has been a big part of Adam’s life since he was a kid, when he would spend hours writing jokes in secret in his room. At one point he had amassed 1,400 pages of A4 pages crammed with gags he’d penned. He was so worried about them becoming damaged that he would scan each sheet into a computer and print off a spare.
Some of those jokes written as a teenager still get an airing in his current sets. ‘Clocks must be so pissed off because from their perspective their hands are moving anti-clockwise’ and ‘surely every car is a people carrier’ serve as testaments to his early one-liner skills.
Adam’s current show, Seahorse, includes stories about what happened when he moved back in with his parents for a while. As a child, he was a big fan of The Sound Of Music and firmly believed that Julie Andrews’ nanny character simply moved jobs when she starred in Mary Poppins. He might also talk about what happened when he spent two weeks doing a medical trial and found himself having to exist in a world without wi-fi. Expect delicious material about the subtle facial expressions people pull during specific social interactions, often between strangers.
If you fancy some generously observed comedy from a highly likeable fellow who can’t seem to get enough of making people laugh, this is the show for you.
■ Adam Hess is at Soho Theatre from Tuesday until Jan 26, sohotheatre.com, and touring, adamhess.co.uk