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© Dan Barham

Graham Clark – Afraid of the Clark review

Assembly Roxy

By Ben Williams

Afraid of the Clark? You shouldn't be. It’s impossible not to warm to this Vancouver-based stand-up’s relaxed, affable persona. Plus, not only does Graham Clark live up to the Canadian national stereotype of being super-friendly, he also looks, and dresses, like a lumberjack, (albeit, a lumberjack who’s wearing his poshest clothes).

Beginning with some nice, if predictable, self-deprecating gags about his impressive wizard-esque beard, Clark sticks to fairly standard comedy topics in his Fringe debut: flatsharing, drinking, being out of shape etc. The material’s strong, if not spectacular: a ‘who uses payphones any more?’ routine has a neat payoff, and a story about a ‘phantom bathroom attendant’ is told with a delightful childlike enthusiasm.

But the four-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee’s irresistible charm can’t hide the fact that he simply doesn’t have enough material to fill the hour-long slot, and he frequently resorts to crowd work. At first, it’s a friendly icebreaker. But as the show progresses, it just feels like desperate filler. ‘Where can we go from here?’ he repeatedly asks the audience, racking his brain for another anecdote, and his finale – reading a series of ’50 Shades of Graham’ tweets’ – feels like a last resort.

‘I’ve never done a Fringe festival before,’ he admits, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing.’ Hopefully he does now, and next time he’ll bring a full hour that’s as solid as the 20-minutes of written-material displayed here.

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