Gabriel Bisset-Smith’s set himself quite a task. Not only does his solo debut have a bold, over-promising title, but the show itself is a big, epic, inventive hour that’s almost too ambitious to succeed.
After a wonderfully pompous OTT entrance, Bisset-Smith (half of sketch duo Guilt and Shame – I’m not sure which half) explains that he has come up with a single joke so original and funny that, much like Monty Python’s gag, people have died from laughing at it. And that’s the show. That’s it. He’ll tell us the joke, we’ll be blown away, and then we’ll all go home either with aching sides or in an ambulance.
Of course, things don’t quite go to plan, and Bisset-Smith has to resort to plan B. He explains how he came to think of the joke, and reenacts the elaborate back-story inspired by the death of his grandfather, via his girlfriend’s cheese vlog and an encounter with Kanye West.
There are smart jokes along the way. Not any that live up to the show title, of course, but that’s the point. Bisset-Smith explains that he’s striving to do something original, both in his comedy and life, in a world where everything has been said or done before. But the Guildhall-trained actor-comedian does sneak sharp sketches and asides (his friend who drunkenly signs TV programmes is a particularly great throwaway gag) into his narrative. And while his attempt to be original initially feels like the show’s entire premise, GBS ends up taking the audience down a different, unexpected path that has a neat pay-off.
With so many ideas layering on top of one another, though, scenes often jar and feel messy. A number of plot points don’t quite make sense after the wider context of the show is revealed, either. But you have to admire Bisset-Smith’s determination. After all, ‘blood, sweat and spunk have been shed for this,’ he claims, and you almost believe him.