Gentle. That’s the best description for Hotel Yes Please, Jody Kamali’s semi-improvised, vaguely interactive comedy "hotel experience". If "gentle" sounds like either damning with faint praise or a kindly commendation; well, it’s both.
Welcoming audience members as "guests" at his shambolic establishment—hosting in character as affable, oddball manager Fernando—Kamali leads us through a series of hotel-themed skits, surreal set-pieces and funny-awkward crowd work. It’s mostly derivative stuff, sort of Fawlty Towers meets Shooting Stars, and it’s hardly sophisticated, typically revolving around frivolous costumes, naff sound effects and silly props. There’s not an edge of bite. But at a Fringe dominated by self-professed comic provocateurs, Kamali’s endearing, gentle manner can feel refreshing.
The show is most engaging when Kamali is diverted from his own, somewhat contrived, material. With a small audience, the drunk selfie-taking back row, and one couple who loudly announce they’ve come all the way from Kamali's obscure hometown, could be disastrous. Not to mention he knows there’s a critic in, nervously pointing me out before feigning attempts to look at my notes (or "Tripadvisor rating"). But Kamali handles all this with a soft touch and wry self-awareness, gently improvising his way through the disturbances to build a genuine sense of community spirit in the room.
At its worst, Hotel Yes Please is unoriginal and underdeveloped. At its best, it's also warm-hearted and endearing, with a few proper laughs. Running at 40 minutes (with free entry), it’s a nice slice of gentle early-afternoon comedy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.