views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

...And Ephgrave
Etcetera Theatre
8th August 2015


Publicity image for ...And Ephgrave

Photography provided by David Ephgrave

When a comedian opens his set with a dissection of his least favourite review, as a critic, you do start to feel a little uncomfortable. On one hand, you feel even more pressure than normal to justify whatever opinion you end up with by the end of the 50 minutes. On the other, you do almost think to yourself if you don't bother running your copy past the subbing team and it ends up published full of mistakes, you'll probably do him a favour by giving him some material for his next gig. Okay, relax. Enjoy the show. Whatever happens, it's all gravy.

Given David Ephgrave has apparently been doing standup for 10 years, it was surprising I hadn't seen him live before, although I did recognise his name as part of Doggett & Ephgrave, a double act who I've spotted in the Camden Fringe brochure many a time, however never managed to get round to seeing. (A reflection on my diary, not them.) Ephgrave's entire spiel is themed around, well, himself. When you're part of a comedy duo for so long, reclaiming your identity in your own right can be tricky and this show, ...And Ephgrave, is his attempt to do so. It's an introduction to him as an individual performer.

Ephgrave is extremely comfortable on stage, handling enthusiastic heckles with ease. You know the kind - the crowd think they're being funny and supportive, yet are actually being disruptive and could knock a less experienced standup off his game. He tries out new jokes on us and is wise enough to adapt as he goes along to make sure he doesn't overrun. Some of his work is very tame, however the way he interacts with his audience and gets the timing spot on does reveal he's no newcomer to the comedy circuit.

The comedian has made the not unreasonable assumption that we don't all know who he is already, so takes us through his life thus far, sharing amongst other things his previous address, his mum's name, an old passport photo - actually, that sounds a lot like a DBS check. Let me reassure you, it's not, and it's funnier than it sounds. Ephgrave is a very likeable standup, confident but not cocky, and a lot of fun to spend time with. This admittedly isn't the sort of comedy show with big belly laughs in it, but you won't regret seeing it.

...And Ephgrave is a very gentle warmup; there's nothing particularly incisive or edgy about any of the material. As far as a debut goes, it's pretty decent, just quite clearly the start of better things to follow. I haven't seen Ephgrave and his partner in crime working a stage together, but off the back of this set, I'd quite happily see Ephgrave again, either by himself or with Doggett. He's a natural entertainer; I just haven't seen his best gags yet.

...And Ephgrave opened on 8th August and runs until 9th August 2015 at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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