‘That one’s not funny, but it is factually accurate,’ says Joe Hart, about one of his many imagined film titles comparing the Crusades to Hollywood sequels. Unfortunately, it’s also true of his show.
Sure, there are historical tales of ancient Greece and seventieth century scientists. But Hart’s debut hour often feels like reading a Wikipedia page, with a sprinkling of gags to cover any citations needed.
The 22-year-old stand-up’s theory is that apples are significant because they link the most important events in history (like the discovery of gravity) and often pop up in religion and mythology. Take the Garden of Eden, for instance. That had an apple in it.
While Hart's attempt to give the show a narrative is admirable, it’s a clunky hook that becomes increasingly overstretched, especially when he moves into material about his Steve Jobs fanboyism.
There are a few smart jokes in his historical stories – his comparison of Pythagoras to Voldermort has a pleasing, roundabout logic – but largely the gags are a bit naff. They’re pleasant enough, but too often he sacrifices laughs to show off his intelligence.
As he rattles through these 40-or-so-minutes, Hart stops our attention waning too often through his sheer charm. He’s a delightful presence – friendly, confident and cheerful – and he’s obviously smart. There are glimmers of potential in his nerdy enthusiasm, but as well researched as ‘Dirty Rotten Apples' is, Hart doesn’t quite get to the core of what a comedy show should be: funny.