Richard Gadd has been getting lots of broadsheet press coverage this Fringe, which is impressive for a comedian staging a free, late night, basement comedy gig. These logistical factors, which would normally work against a show’s success, are at least a small part of its appeal – bigging up a Free Fringe gig is a nifty way for reviewers to show they’re in touch with ‘the true spirit of the Fringe’, whatever that is. However, that jaded interpretation doesn’t give Gadd enough credit. ‘Waiting for Gaddot’ stands out because it’s radically different to pretty much everything else on the Fringe, and while its inventive framework is let down by some disappointingly one-note material, there’s still a genuine thrill in watching him carry it off.
An element of surprise is pretty crucial to the show’s enjoyment though, so prepare for yet another write-up that skimps on detailing what actually happens. We’ll just say that Gadd and his accomplices expertly utilise a wide array of comedic techniques – character work, video flashbacks, some serious demolition of the fourth wall – while subtracting one or two key elements to test and subvert the accepted structure of a comedy performance.
Beyond that bold presentation, though, there’s not much to celebrate. Gadd’s humour is relentlessly grubby and sordid, which is fine in moderation but becomes wearing after a while, like Goatboy impressions or ‘Cards Against Humanity’. Provocation is all well and good, but it needs some sort of contrast or wider context to be properly effective. It’s a shame to see a mind so obviously sharp as Gadd’s rolling in the gutter without acknowledging the stars.