Ari Shaffir: Ari S-P-E-C-T

Two things are striking about Ari S-P-E-C-T. The first is that it’s a great name and fun to say, the second is that it’s very American. Shaffir, in fact, makes it something of a mission statement. Eschewing the fancy theming and structure typical of British Fringe shows, it opts for a staple foods approach, relying on a guy and a microphone talking about stuff. Thankfully that guy is Ari Shaffir, who comes off as the most on the ball stoner alive, with a quick, peculiar wit that ensures this is a standout example of observational comedy.

He’s rough, dark, but always amiable. While he’s all too happy to list off his numerous problems with children, or brutally rib a friend for getting pregnant via Tinder date, he’s also not without silly, endearing jokes about dogs. It’s certainly not for the easily offended, but Shaffir is way above shock humour, the smartness of it all blends with an inherently ironic delivery to soften the edges and sidestep the feeling that he’s punching down at anyone.

He’s an extremely laid back performer, to the point that he did the whole set with overflow crowd members sitting on the stage behind him when capacity was reached. It never seemed to phase him at all, and was very cool of him, for lack of a better word. Quite the opposite of putting him off in fact, it fed well into his relaxed style, endearing an already very likeable performer further. At times his nonchalantness works against him, when he goes off on a tangent and starts to meander things aren’t as funny. Despite that, there’s never any extended silences or moments of distraction, and not a moment goes by without the sounds of a great number of people having a good time.

A solid show by a committed comedy veteran with a heap of natural talent to back up his experience. Great.

★★★★

Keiran Burnett

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