Milo McCabe – Genesisocide

People place too much stock in things making sense. As a species we have, at various times, worshipped dog headed Gods, sat people on steel boxes full of high explosives so as to launch them into space, filled stadiums with tens of thousands of people so they could scream at someone running quite fast and piled big rocks up like giant’s Lego. Granted people are always looking for ways to rationalise it all, but at the heart of it humanity just has a long standing love for doing strange shit. We love it. At the lowest level we call it being eccentric, at the highest we take a few thousand years to see a: that it was mad and b: go mad enough to make it seem sane again. It’s what we do and hey, everyone needs a hobby. Dogs chase balls, cats hate and humans turn absurd. Milo McCabe is definitely human.

Milo McCabe’s one man (with many faces) show Genisisocide does have a plot. It even makes sense. If you wrote it down and drew lines from part to part there’d be no dead ends or MC Escher distortions thrown in there. It is however a plot which gleefully makes no sense right up until the point where you look back and see your footprints treading a clear line through the dune-scape of Milo’s mind.

Using an ensemble cast of what could loosely be called impressions McCabe revels in the side notes. Flitting from character to character and idea to idea without ever really losing sight of where the narrative’s going. I won’t say too much about that, the story itself. This review would grow to a tedious length if I tried and what’s more I’d end up having to recreate the whole thing here in front of my screen just to try and translate it into some coherent written form. But to give you the slightest of ideas it involves Bob Geldof, Phil Collins, Phil Collin, Elton John, murder, time travel, more murder and ’90s European Techno. Although at precisely the same time it doesn’t involve any of those things so much as it involves Milo McCabe’s brilliantly eclectic mind.

I have seen some people saying Genesisocide is truly fringe and far from most peoples idea of easy viewing and while it’s certainly not for every audience I wouldn’t go that far myself. What Milo does here is another form from a proud tradition of absurdism. From the Bonzo Dog Band through to Reeves & Mortimer and even my own Laikanist Times (*cough* available now *cough*) there are plenty of people out there embracing the ridiculous with greater or less amounts of depth behind them. It may offer a bit of a shock at first but given a chance it’s a wonderful world of oddity to slip into. Although I will add that, as a stand-up, Milo drives for the laughs and there’s not an ocean of profundity behind the act (*cough*not like Laikanist Times *cough*). That’s no negative though because not making sense, when done right, is an end unto itself and a thoroughly worthwhile one at that. So if you get a chance go and see Genesisocide.

Unfortunately I reckon this show is a Fringe special but I did also see Milo in another show where he stuck to just one personality and all of the same quality was there. Plus I’d be far from surprised if he turned up on TV one day, in one way or another. At the very least someone should throw a few quid at him to give it a try. Otherwise it’s definitely another name to keep an eye out for, starting with following him on Twitter (@MiloComedy). You can also check out his Edinburgh gigs with Gensisocide here if you’re lucky enough to be in town and it’s free, which is always nice.

Dave Chawner – Normally Abnormal

Probably my favourite thing about real life is that it’d make a really shit piece of art. The plot is usually paper thin, character development is random at best, the actors barely seem to understand their roles and the dialogue is usually shite. Like some of the more unfortunate shows at the Edinburgh Fringe real life only ever gets any sort of audience because it’s free and people can’t think of anything better to do. Unlike some of those shows though you can’t sneak a bottle of cheap rum and a plastic cup into the venue of reality so the whole affair can really start to drag. But stick with me here, because I’m still talking about why all of those failings amount to some of the best reasons I can think of to stick around until everyone gets chucked out at the end.

Y’see unlike any piece of art, be it literary, visual, performed, crafted or keyed onto a toilet door, life can, while being really badly put together, give you more, better and more interesting experiences than anything else you’re likely to find – even if you have Net Flix and Amazon Prime both. And the best art or comedy or music knows that as it walks away from anything fancy like plot or coherence and just slaps down before you the jumbled ridiculousness of life – which is the one universally translatable force for us all. And that’s why after barely having had time to recover from the trip back I’m sitting down to make my first post-Edinburgh Fringe recommendation – ‘Normally Abnormal’ with Dave Chawner.

Normally Abnormal is without doubt a stand-up one even with the big slab of human awareness that it’s built on. Dave is an anorexic with experience of depression, a negligible sex drive and a fondness for one night stands of spooning. All of which are shared and talked about as part of the heart of the show but none of which end up feeling like the focal point of it. Which is the clever part really. The declared subject matter here, the bit that for a lot of stand up becomes, in one form or another, the defining factor of a show is here just a composite part of the person on stage.  A testimony to all the honesty that Dave obviously aims for in his set.

Issues which could quite easily be held up over the show as being the point are subsumed into the beautiful mundanity of human experience and regurgitated as well crafted comedy. There’s no attempt to weave a plot line or neatly summed up narrative from the subject matter. No grand moral conclusions are reached, no profound motivational speeches are given, nothing is neatly packaged at the end of the night because as I said, life is too poor at plots and structure for anything like that to work.

Instead Dave offers a funny and thoroughly human insight into the sort of aspects and issues of life that for all of us defy any grandstanding or definition. He doesn’t take socially taboo subjects and try to present or define them, he’s simply honest in himself. Which when so many people talk about wanting to ‘normalise’ or open up debate on issues of mental health and long denied experiences is genuine relief. Because here they’re not being normalised or opened, they are normal and Dave is open about them.

The Fringe isn’t far from being over now, so it’s a bit late to be plugging his show there but no doubt he’s going to be gigging out there, somewhere before long for you to catch him. In fact going by the Scrabble players wet dream of acronym based charities and groups that he seems to be involved with I’d be surprised if there was an evening of the year where he isn’t on a stage somewhere saying something. So add him on Twitter (@DaveChawner) and keep an eye out but if you are around Edinburgh at the moment I know for sure that you can catch him at The Loft above the Counting House pub on West Nicholson Street until the 30th. Which, as a pro tip, also has an offy around the corner and no bag checks so already the show’s got one up on most parts of life.