Review: Matt Forde at the Edinburgh Fringe

From his idiosyncratic yet brilliant laugh to his affable, laid-back manner, Matt Forde is an instantly likeable and easy-going comic.

He is a born entertainer with a great deal of experience under his belt, both as a stand-up and on various radio shows with such acclaimed comics as Russell Howard and Jon Richardson. This certainly shows in his one hour show entitled ‘Eyes to the Right, Nose to the Left’.

The clue is in the name: the show revolves around Forde’s personal development as he finds himself slowly drifting towards the centre of the poltical spectrum. Let it be said now that this comedian is very political. A Labour supporter, Forde’s set is crammed with anecdotes and stories taken from his exciting and remarkable life in politics, liberally scattered with his strong opinions on everything and everyone. From Cameron to Milliband, American elections to the pasty tax, few politicians and topics escape his comment, be it praise or derision.

Such material could be potentially divisive, yet Forde approaches it with humility and sensitivity, constantly seeking to engage his audience on an individual level. He is never offensive or unsavoury, and his enthusiasm and sincerity make it hard not to fall in love with this earnest, well-meaning comic. Whilst his material is unlikely to tempt those who have no interest in politics whatsoever, jokes about secret gay fantasies, the Olympics and Sky News turn what could have otherwise been a niche set into one that is enjoyable for everyone.

Flow is sometimes a problem in Forde’s performance. His enthusiasm and energy mean that he sometimes gets lost, slightly jarring what would otherwise have flowed beautifully and expertly from start to finish. Intermittent pauses to express a seemingly disconnected opinion in an effort to engage his audience, whilst commendable in theory, don’t quite work in practice.  Yet despite these interruptions, Forde’s natural talent and quick wit make the rawness of his performance highly entertaining, and as many laughs are gained during his ad-libing as in his planned pieces.

Forde, then, is a comic eager both to entertain and inform, and in this show he manages both with effortless panache. An intelligent and wise hour, it is neither dry nor dull for a single moment. Whilst Forde’s enthusiasm sometimes overtakes him, his talent and delivery make him one to watch.

7/10

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