views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Mike Sheer: Jerk In Progress
The Camden Head
31st July 2012


There are times being a critic when you need to know who to blame. It's easy to point fingers at the act - they are there after all to amuse. But sometimes it isn't, sometimes the audience is at fault for not realising or appreciating the talent that is in front of them.

Such was the case with Jerk In Progress, as Mike Sheer was met with an unjustified wall of apathy to what were some genuinely inventive, funny gags. God, vaginas and penises aren't the most hugely original of subjects, but energy and conviction elevate this set to a much higher standard than he was credited with.

Amiable and eager to please, Sheer's persona is akin to a self-effacing US comic trying out Brit material, which given his Canadian/Jew heritage makes sense. He admits when things don't work, like a classic English underdog. At his best, when lampooning corporations or discussing religion, snapshots of Hicks or Louis CK shine through, but undercut by that Commonwealth wit and dryness.

But enough about the negative atmosphere. Okay, just one more thing - Sheer handles hecklers well. His corny put-downs worked in context, especially considering his shtick.

He began with a low-key, conversationalist tone about Camden in general, going to Edinburgh, life in London and the Olympics. As mentioned, his digs at McDonalds, while not massively brave, were certainly entertaining, with a jolly distain oozing from every syllable. His second half cribbed more from his show Undergod, as he examined the religious argument of design by imperfection. This was a loose overarching concept on which to hang other, wider issues, his girlish hands and Jewishness. It's not tackling big ideas, nor is it slaughtering sacred cows, but it is deft and at times very funny.

Despite their initial reservations, the final audience response was a strong one, at least allowing Sheer to go out on a high. It's just a shame they couldn't have given him what he deserved for other segments, such as a sublimely grim anecdote about taking a dip, high on Ecstasy after a romantic encounter with his then-girlfriend.

Sheer is making his Edinburgh debut at the Laughing Horse Free Fringe. This alone gives you a good reason to see him. But his inventiveness, exuberance and charming brashness, as well as some smart material, are certainly better reasons.

Mike Sheer performed at The Camden Head on 30th and 31st July as part of the Camden Fringe. His show Undergod then ran at the Laughing Horse Free Fringe, part of the Edinburgh Fringe, from 2nd to 26th August 2012.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

Follow us on Twitter

Leicester Square







performing arts