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ELLIOT STEEL: Love And Hate Speech at Edinburgh Fringe

If I was going to faint during Elliot Steel’s Edinburgh comedy hour, it would have been because of the stifling heat of the room – venues have a tendency to deny temperatures are kept uncomfortably high to maximise sales of beer, wine and soft drinks, but I’m sceptical. But it appears at least a couple of people have, which explains an intriguing (at the time, anyway) juxtaposition between Steel telling the audience about how mental wellbeing campaigns targeted at men of his generation don’t work with his peer group, only to invite people in the audience who don’t react well to squeamish stories to step outside and grab themselves another drink from the bar, or use the facilities, or both.

ELLIOT STEELWith regards to the first point, Steel had put a message in a WhatsApp group chat about not being afraid to speak up if any of them were to suffer anxiety or depression, which resulted in responses along the lines of never having considered suicide until they read Steel’s invitation to talk about mental health. On the second point, well, even I’m not sure how much I want to reveal to readers – suffice to say he sustains an injury that eventually requires corrective surgery. Jiu-jitsu is Steel’s choice of martial arts, which evidently carries out an element of risk.

Like many men, he doesn’t seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity after his injury, only doing so when his ability to continue going cross-country doing comedy gigs becomes physically next to impossible. The son of comedian Mark Steel, he acknowledges both the privileges and challenges that come with having the kind of upbringing that a very left-wing comic would provide. There are recollections of what is best described as expressions of lad culture. Most people, unless they have family and/or close friends based there, go to Las Vegas to gamble. Steel and his mates apparently went to do drugs, a narrative which wasn’t personally of interest, but there was much humour to be found nonetheless, particularly in the differences between what one can get away with in Nevada as opposed to Britain.

There’s a friendly and relaxed style from this rapidly rising star, who deserves acclaim irrespective of who his father is.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Love and Hate Speech sees comedy’s most talented Nepo Baby make light of the darkest and most taboo subjects from his own life and experience. Only 26 but a young veteran of the British scene, Steel is finding success with his hilarious takes on mental health, being raised in comedy and the pressures that come with it in a world that hates nepo children.

ELLIOT STEEL: Love And Hate Speech
Underbelly Cowgate, Delhi Belly
3rd -27th August 2023

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