A comedy act at the Edinburgh Fringe with ‘a plan’ is most welcome, refreshing even, in amongst the various performances that, while amusing enough, don’t really seem to be as properly structured as they could be. That George Lewis also includes ‘a man’ (presumably himself) and ‘a girl with fake tan’ in the said plan – well, those are just bonuses. Lewis’ wife is a teacher, and at home, she has a natural tendency to endlessly correcting her husband on his grammar. “Every time you correct my grammar,” he once retorted, “I love you a little bit fewer.”
It’s the sort of gentle (or, rather, gentler) humour that seems to be coming through now from emerging comedians, practically shunning the ‘eff, cee and effing cee’ approach and reverting to the days when people deployed a reasonably wide vocabulary to recount events in their stand-up set. Here, the audience is taken back to 1998, and to Lewis’ schooldays. He’s trying to win over Kim, who he rather fancies, and hopes to impress her at a school talent contest.
There’s some good use of projected images in the show, though whenever a comedian has slides and images behind them, I can’t help but think of those corporate PowerPoint presentations. It works well here, though, in helping to navigate through his plan, which, being a set of schoolboy strategies, are looked on with retrospect with a mixture of fondness and regret. It’s often said, in the stress of trying to realise a plan, ‘one day we’ll look back at all this and laugh’. For Lewis, or rather for his audience, that ‘day’ is this show.
The punchlines provoke genuine laughter – always a good sign. I liked a takedown of the retail chain TK Maxx, which Lewis described as a place where designer labels are loved but style is hated. When he talks about their preference for putting up ‘RRP prices’ for their items (in order to highlight the severity of discounts offered), over maintaining a tidy shop floor, I can almost hear his wife ticking him off for saying ‘RRP prices’ – literally, ‘recommended retail price prices’.
It would be too much of a giveaway to reveal if he gets the girl or not. His talent contest entry takes the form of a rap, which begins, “Yo, bitch!” – make of that what you will. There’s a darker side to Kim, which left Lewis indulging in activities that he would rather not have indulged in (as a child or as an adult), but this added an extra layer to the narrative. There are digressions – and rightly so, and all things considered, this proved to be a rather impressive debut solo show.
Review by Chris Omaweng
‘A man, a plan, a girl with fake tan’ tells the story of when George was 12 and he fell for the most beautiful, most orange girl in Stockport. To win her heart, he decided he needed to act less like a boy and more like a man. Specifically, the coolest man in Britain at that point: Liam Gallagher.
In this show, George looks back on life as a teenager in a world that was going crazy for Britpop, Minidiscs and New Labour. He was a self-assured geek who was trying so hard to be cool and getting it so, so wrong.
He’d like to think that this is just something every teenage boy goes through, but the odd story of his life as an adult shows he’s not changed that much after all. He still tries to be cool. He still gets it wrong, more often than not. And he’s still a huge Oasis fan. He recently won BBC1’s Celebrity Mastermind answering Oasis questions, and appeared on the Oasis podcast to talk about his victory.
GEORGE LEWIS: A Man, a Plan, a Girl
with Fake Tan
1st – 26th August 2018 at 5.45pm