America is crumbling, rotting from the inside, and Eddie Pepitone is fiddling whilst the empire burns.
Like a Shakespearean fool he gambols across the stage exposing the false faces of capitalism, the devastation caused by ever-rising unemployment and the vacuous celebrity culture which distracts the general population from the awful realities ahead. He barely contains his twisted anger, releasing it in small poisoned darts aimed venomously into the crowd. It’s a grotesque look at the bloated underbelly of the States, a violent caricature – the CEO of BP shoots a dolphin, the Iraq War is turned into a game of ‘The Price is Right’ and Willy Loman does a detergent advert claiming it has the power to ‘get the failure out.’
The darkest and most profoundly disturbing set piece tackles the rising levels of mental health problems in the US by envisioning a paranoid schizophrenic confessing his fragility to a baying stadium of dumb-witted fans.
In parts it’s brilliant and provides further proof that this New Yorker is a highly accomplished comic and social commentator. However, there is a lack of clarity or focus to his argument. It’s chaotic in its scattergun approach and as such fails to truly hit with the power and impact that it should if the material was marshalled together in a more coherent manner. We’ve also heard a lot of these arguments before, there are few genuinely new pieces of information to engage or provoke.
Pepitone is unlike anybody else out there at the moment and as such is always worth watching. He’ll challenge and unsettle an audience before winning them back with a well-chosen one-liner, but in this show he delivers more of a glancing blow than a knock-out punch.
‘Eddie Pepitone – RIP America, It’s Been Fun’ is at the Pleasance Courtyard, 9pm