This review first appeared in The Skinny
Ian Smith: Flappable @ Pleasance Beside
Ian Smith has a long list of things that get right on his tits. Whether it’s people being disgusting on public transport, or having to make suspicious purchases at 2am, things have a habit of stressing him out. He’s the Flappable sort.
Smith quickly and effortlessly establishes a toasty rapport with the crowd and is able to provide top-notch responses to audience remarks. He discusses a bizarre piece of ‘fan mail’ he received, the embarrassment he feels in changing-rooms, his frustration at not owning enough kitchen utensils, his horror when soap operas change the actor playing a main character, what he wants done with his corpse, his plans for his own funeral… While some of these strike a chord, others are plainly absurd, and this blend of the familiar and weird gives zest to Smith’s set. He links his jokes, deftly weaving in strands from anecdotes told 10, 20, 50 minutes previously to create an impressive web.
His delivery can be a bit shouty. Perhaps he’s used to performing in bigger spaces (as he points out, Pleasance Courtyard’s Beside is essentially a couple of shipping containers strapped together), and his resonant Yorkshire vocals have little need of a microphone in this setting. Many will love Smith’s intensity and unstinting energy, though a few eardrums may take a battering.
Whether he’s musing on what hedgehogs eat or pondering the definition of halal meat, Smith is an extremely likeable performer, on top form from start to finish. This is an hour of controlled madness, consistently intelligent and laugh out loud funny, and no doubt Smith’s powerful voice will be filling vaster spaces in years to come.