22 August 2009
Jo Verrent saw Adam Hills inflate at the Edinburgh Fringe, where he is playing at the Assembly Rooms in George Street until 31 August. Sunday performances are interpreted.
Adam Hills – you know, the Australian one who is on ‘Mock the Week’ a lot. You do know him - he’s the reasonably good looking one. You do know him – he’s the one with a prosthetic leg. See, you do know him.
I saw his stand up show in Edinburgh this week. Bit of a departure for me, stand up (I’m more your physical theatre and dance type girl). I thought I’d give it a go, and aimed to get there early enough to get a seat good enough to lip read from. Didn’t get there early enough and was stuck at the back of an enormous queue, so mentioned my situation to an usher and was immediately whisked upstairs for early seating – result!
So that’s me sitting in the middle of the front row, and then the BSL interpreter came out. Yes, quite without realizing it, quite by chance and quite by coincidence I had booked the one night in his run with a turp! Of course I was delighted but I did wonder why I hadn’t realized there was even an option to see the show with one.
I really wanted to know how he would deal with the whole ‘disability’ topic. When I’d seen him on telly, I’d liked the way he neither hid nor played on his leg, merely mentioning it/showing it when it was appropriate but not making it into a huge part of what he did and this carried into his standup routine.
We did get a flash of the leg, but only to back up a joke about going through the security gates at Bejing Airport. He set the alarms off and then wondered why it was no big deal to the guards, then remembered he was there as part of the Paralympics and that the 30 people behind him ALL had prosthetic limbs – and were all thinking ‘you’re nothing special, Princess’.
So disability was part of the set – and not always in a PC way. For example he also described walking around the Paralympic enclosure at Bejing as being like walking into the bar in Star Wars (but personally I quite like a bit of near-the-knuckle stuff – keeps me awake and makes me laugh despite myself).
I think what I enjoyed most was his seemingly genuine interest in working with the interpreter (who was fantastic by the way). They had obviously undertaken considerable preparation in advance (so she didn’t for example, make the joke about the inflatable boy inadvertently into a joke about fellatio!) There was a real sense of playfulness in their exchanges – and the whole audience certainly got an education when he asked her to demonstrate the BSL sign for clitoris…
For more details go to http://www.assemblyfestival.com