Sunday, September 19, 2021

Review: Jimmy Hogg Delivers Exactly as Promised

Who: Jimmy Hogg
What: Jimmy Hogg: Like a Virgin
Where: Staircase Cafe Theatre, Bright Room (27 Dundurn Street North)
When: July 18-28, various dates & times (as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival

In the written material for Jimmy Hogg: Like A Virgin, the audience is promised a comedic story “about the trials of youth, love and loss (of virginity).” The show is a tight hour of exactly that. Jimmy Hogg‘s production tells the story of his sexual awakening and eventual loss of virginity, and shortly after that, he takes a bow.

The details of these stories is what makes the production work so well. Hogg is clearly a comedian, and his performance is reminiscent of a long-form comedy set where a comedian would tell one or two stories instead of reciting joke after joke. By choosing three main stories (in addition to an introduction and conclusion), Hogg revels in the simplicity of his premise. His character is likable and interesting, and even when interacting with the audience, he keeps a tight command over his performance- the sign of a veteran Fringe performer. Hogg balances the audience interactions with the story, so although the “fourth wall” is repeatedly broken, it is never done so in a way that feels distracting or deterring from the main story.

Like any good comedian, he adds so many particular details and tangents to his story that they become colourful and mesmerizing recollections- it is impossible to find at least one thing that isn’t worth laughing about or, in many cases, is embarrassingly relatable. His speech patterns through these details is a little obvious- as he speaks faster through these tangents, Hogg is on a clear search for the audience’s laughter. Although this is humourous in its own way, it makes the timing of punchlines predictable, detracting from some of the story’s charm. Considering the overall performance, this is a relatively minor complaint.

Hogg is an incredibly physical comedian. Rather than stand in front of a microphone or sit on a stool, he utilizes the small stage in the Staircase Theatre’s Bright Room to his full advantage. Music and lighting is chosen thoughtfully and executed well. Like the story, there is not a great deal of complexity in these artistic choices, but it matches the tone of the production to ultimately make it a stronger, more cohesive performance.

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