The thing about Ivo Graham’s shows is that one has to stay the course – this isn’t one of those comedy hours with one-liners pouring forth with such rapidity there’s no time to savour the moment. But to quote Guinness, “good things come to those who wait”, and the punchlines at the end of Graham’s stories are worth the investment. Like many comics at this year’s Fringe, there’s some material about the pandemic – he had the pleasure of being part of a Zoom comedy night for a university freshers’ week, during which one of the students was cooking dinner but hadn’t turned his camera off.
Graham likes to spin a story, and as ever, there’s no getting away from his privileged background – he “went to Eton” before reading French and Russian literature at Oxford, and it appears the old boy network has come to his aid in various ways over the years. This doesn’t stop him from ranting against Boris Johnson (fair enough, the fellow Old Etonian really has let the side down), but while he may not be economically disadvantaged, life still comes with its challenges.
There’s an almost curmudgeonly outlook on life that betrays his relative youthfulness: Graham is thirty-one at the time of writing, and has a daughter, born in February 2019. Some of the embarrassing situations he’s found himself in are self-inflicted, such as an awkward conversation with a barber, or booking a party boat that could accommodate twelve people but there were thirteen in the group. He clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously, finding merriment, however sarcastically, even in moments of misfortune. I still haven’t seen the 2019 motion picture adaptation of Cats, and I have no intention of doing so any time soon having heard Graham’s summary of it.
Understandably, there’s a lot of material about his young daughter: some reminiscing about trips to Peppa Pig World included inevitable frustration when a visit to a theme park didn’t go according to plan (do they ever?). Family is a running theme – he spent one of the lockdowns in the family home, during which he rediscovered things his parents hadn’t thrown away for whatever reason, including some short stories in schoolbooks he had written. The stories are regurgitated for the audience to enjoy, the mind of a child who couldn’t help but make every creative writing task about the beautiful game. A confident and assured performance.
Review by Chris Omaweng
In 2020 Ivo Graham spent five months in his childhood home, surrounded by football figurines, Linkin Park CDs, and the chilling prose poetry he wrote at boarding school in the late nineties. Finally, after two decades of putting it off, unprecedented global circumstances had conspired to make him tidy his bedroom. Of course, the great hoarders will always find something to distract them from the job: in this case, the fact that Ivo had his ex and his infant daughter living downstairs. Can you smell a sitcom? Can you smell anything? Have you taken a test?