An evening at the Museum of Comedy was always going to be somewhat different from my usual theatregoing fare of witnessing shows that deal with multiple themes with various degrees of poignancy and enlightenment. While I may have been labelled ‘the reviewer’ in the audience, one’s true friends are those who are brutally honest about whether a gag or a punchline works or not. And as Joe Bor’s friends (and family) had turned out in force, I am pleased to report that they were superb in making clear what was excellent and what was below par. Future audiences of this show are therefore in for even more of a treat than yours truly.
It takes some guts, I daresay, to publicly admit that a line didn’t work, and even more strength of character to take a pen and cross out a joke or two (or ten), marking them down as ones not to be used for future performances, at least not in their current state or in their current context. I could, of course, have been completely hoodwinked by this approach, and it may be something that’s done in every show. I suspect the real truth is somewhere in between: there has to be some retention, else future performances are going to be incredibly short.
Bor’s alter ego, Jasper Cromwell Jones, is spoiled and privileged young man – in essence, a toff. This adventurer goes off to South America and, because of dramatic changes in his family’s fortunes (his father had apparently invested in some schemes lauded by FIFA’s Sepp Blatter), is forced to work for a living. He has chosen to write a book in order to provide a revenue stream. The book launch night is the backdrop, and Cromwell Jones is to delight his gathered throng by reading extracts from his book, “available from all good bookshops, and as an e-book. I’m not sure what an e-book is. I think it’s an audiobook read by someone with a Yorkshire accent.” Reading out of a book is one way, I suppose, of not having to learn quite so many lines. Or in this case, any.
There were to be some costumes but the unusually warm weather (this was a “deodorant day”) meant that this had to be foregone. At least the flexibility to forego was there. The overall storyline arc was quite predictable from the start – this gentleman (in the original meaning of that word) was always going to be out of place, or say the ‘wrong’ thing, or take something said to him the ‘wrong’ way. Still, I enjoyed the ride all the same.
In an era where it seems to be fashionable to be controversial and even aggressive when doing stand-up, Bor takes a different approach. His routines are not heavy laden with expletives; they are neither creepy nor unsettling. I found it very refreshing. He consistently breaks character but in a way that ends up adding to the comedy. An interaction with a French lady in the audience with a maniacal laugh was done skilfully – and with improvisation from both parties. (She even spotted a typo in a portion of the script, and the irony of a Frenchwoman spotting the word ‘souvenir’ spelt incorrectly was not lost on us.)
By the end of it all we are left feeling some sympathy for Cromwell Jones’ situation, having lost both his current fortune and future inheritance. This was not a preachy take on the privileged. It is good and solid observational comedy (observed from the likes of Edward ‘Bear’ Grylls). It’s highly imaginative, highly amusing and thus highly recommended.
One more thing. It was agreed in the course of the show that I would mention a particular error, and as both performer and audience are sort of expecting to read it, written down for all to see for years to come, and here it is. It would be amusing, Bor mused, if we could use vegetables as terms of units of measurement: flying across the Atlantic at 30,000 cabbages, 20,000 potatoes under the sea, that sort of thing. The athlete Usain Bolt, most famous for demolishing Olympic and world records for the 100 metres track run, would apparently have run 40,000 widgets in 9.58 seconds. There. Let it be known that I keep my promises.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Joe Bor and Jasper Cromwell Jones
In a unique mix of stand-up and character comedy, award-winning comedian Joe Bor introduces his popular poshboy adventurer Jasper Cromwell Jones, morphing in and out of his two personas.
Joe, an in-demand TV warm up man (The Graham Norton Show, Mock the Week, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Sunday Night at the Palladium) created Jasper in 2012. Since then, Jasper, who channels the spirit of 127 Hours and Touching the Void with the ability of Harry Enfield’s Tim Nice But Dim, has been received critical acclaim and has been optioned for TV by Warner Brothers.
Joe Bor and Jasper Cromwell Jones introduces us to Jasper’s sternest test to date – losing all his money, losing his home, getting a real job and falling in love with a woman who works in a chip shop. What would mummy say?
Title: Joe Bor and Jasper Cromwell Jones
Saturday 4 July @ 6.30pm
Wednesday 8 July @ 8pm
Museum of Comedy, The Undercroft, St George’s Church, Bloomsbury Way
London WC1A 2SR
020 7534 1744
Tuesday 11 August @ 9.30pm
Wednesday 12 August @ 9.30pm
Camden Comedy Club, upstairs at The Camden Head, 100 Camden High St, London NW1 0LU
Duration: 1 hour
Last Updated Saturday 5th July 2015