Ade Foiadelli speaks with passion, charisma and no little intellect. Yet he covers familiar ground – not least the folly of faith and a praise of science – and more crucially often forgets to include many jokes. So while the tone is generally entertaining, both the substance and comedy element lack the impact they need, especially since his message of tolerance and rationalism is being preached to the converted.
He’s also preaching to his friends. I’m the only one in this very cosy subterranean room who doesn’t already know him, which makes an already intimate environment even more cosy.
Foiadelli isn’t entirely without jokes or wryly amusing observations, a couple of which are awkwardly tacked on to the start of the show apropos of nothing. This would be understandable if they were surefire bankers, but seem ill-formed as well as irrelevant.
Once he gets under way many of the gags seem unduly harsh. He’s got bleak sensibilities, for sure, and sometimes there are titters just for how depressing a scenario he paints. Affixed to the main thread are some gags that deliberately play up on the bad taste. Although he’s older than most new acts, being in his late 40s, he makes the rookie mistake of going in hard to get a response, a nervous laugh of discomfort still counting as a win in his ledger.
He piles these jokes onto a show that is already sombre in tones since it concerns the death of his mum – devout but by no means a dick about her religion, by his account – and his beloved father. The juxtaposition of genuine grief, which he describes well, will flippant bad-taste jokes is not an easy one.
At its core, there is a sensitive show here about loss, the experience of which can come with bittersweet laughs. But, laughs slip through his fingers he as he pushes half-formed jokes too hard and struggles to hit the right mood.
He gets a nice tone in the end, with a folksy song that’s accepting of the inevitable demise that will come to us all. It’s wry rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but in this moment the show knows what it’s supposed to be.
Review date: 1 Jun 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Hove Artista Cafe & Gallery