Phil Nichol – Hiro Worship
THE STAND COMEDY CLUB (VENUE 5)
LIKE the eponymous character in his new show, Phil Nichol should be the Hiro of this year’s Fringe. On top of this gig, last year’s If.Comeddies award winner is also directing the play Breaker Morant, starring in another, Killer Joe, and performing a one-off revival of last year’s triumph, The Naked Racist.
But on the evidence of this energetic yet strained gig, it looks as if the Scots-born Canadian has overstretched himself, and lost his golden touch in the process. The running theme of Hiro Worship is the Rolling Stones, so Nichol arrives on stage wearing one of their tongue symbol T-shirts, backed by a similarly-clad three-piece band.
After a spot of Start Me Up karaoke, Nichol launches straight into a self-reflexive, Ricky Gervais-style confessional on his new-found fame since the award. This could have had comedic potential had he not – ironically enough – displayed all the signs of an egomaniacal big-shot convinced of his own talent.
The remainder of the show consists of the rather pointless true story of Hiro, a Japanese man whom Nichol befriends in London and subsequently can’t get rid of for a month. The Stones theme – which appears to satisfy Nichol’s own rock star aspirations more than anything else – is explained by the fact that Hiro is an obsessive fan determined to meet Jagger et al.
This 45-minute narrative is inherently unfunny, and the climax fizzles out like a damp firework during which Nichol sings a predictable Stones number to paint over the cracks.
But worse than the material is the fact that Nichol seems to equate volume with comedy: apparently the louder he yells the more we’ll laugh. Combined with his repeated, ear-shredding send-up of Japanese, this amounts to nothing more than aural pain.
If you don’t warm to his abrasive style (read, “screaming lunatic”) in the first five minutes, you’re in for a long night.
Until 26 August. Today 8.10pm