If you like sci-fi concepts and cerebral meditation in your comedy, you need to see Alice Fraser. Ethos is the name of the artificial intelligence that shares the stage with Fraser, personified as a light box that is both futuristic and retro. Ethos acts as the perfect straight-man to Fraser’s energetic ideas about love, faith, politics and everything else, constantly butting in and pointing out the holes in her theories. Ethos is cold and detached, while Fraser is lively, throwing smart, funny ideas all over the place.
If anything, there are almost too many ideas. Fraser rattles through a multitude of subjects, from her Jewish heritage to a nuanced take on creepy male comedians, all the while trying to teach Ethos about the nature of existence. Luckily, Ethos is there to identify the moments when Fraser’s ambition gets the better of her and the show’s structure starts to fall apart. It’s clever like that.
For all the intelligence, there’s plenty of silliness too. There’s a brilliant bit involving Glenn Miller’s The Gambler, for instance. Ethos is a little overstuffed, but highly recommended for folks who like big ideas in comedy.