Ivo Graham: Binoculars

Confidence, tightness and linguistic dexterity from a comedy wunderkind.

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 August 2013

There's a gang of 14-year-olds in – four of them, sneaking in just above the minimum age limit for Ivo Graham's debut solo Fringe show. Twenty minutes in and Graham is squirting one of them with a water pistol he's bought. But inter-generational war this is not: Graham is a mere eight years older than the now damp teenager, and on roughly equal physical terms. "It's refreshing," says the younger kid. And thusly, doth youth speak true. Graham sure ain't perfect—assaulting children, for one, is frowned upon by some—but he is just a little bit different.

An Oxford-educated old Etonian who won So You Think You're Funny? at the barely sentient age of 18, Graham hits his early twenties oozing confidence. But not a brash, in-your-face kind of confidence that screams indignity and desparation. Graham's is a cool, understated assuredness which, combined with his obvious erudition, means he can push through the thorns of nerdy self-deprecation and come out unscathed the other side. It allows for nice material to be delivered without awkwardness, and Graham pieces it together with tightness and linguistic dexterity.

If anything, Graham's tendency is to over-write and over-rehearse, tripping over lines he has clearly laboured hard over. He can relax. In more spontaneous moments—grappling, for instance, with the volley and thunder from the "infant infantry"—his quickness and confidence make for a performance which is impossible not to enjoy. And don't worry, Ivo: you totally nailed that kid.