Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

It almost feels like Chris Gethard was a year too late coming to the Fringe with last year’s buzz theme of mental illness, regardless it’s hardly a topic that should be considered a tired rhetoric. The thirty-six-year old American saunters on stage without announcement, bringing an air of tranquillity somewhat opposing to the energy somewhat required for most comedy hours. It’s a curious atmosphere as you’re sucked in to his self-confessional and raw tale about his first suicide attempt but at the back of my mind wondering where the divine comedy elements are, only you are then hit like a freight train when you least expect it.

Gethard continues with full on emotional detail of his road to recovery, his battle with alcoholism that centres on one particular story of a narrative events containing blackouts and ludicrous events that gut wrench the audience into loud cackling. It’s Gethard’s delicate delivery and balance that make a topic that should be on the opposite side of the universe from the realm of entertainment, but he manages to find the right dosage to deliver poignancy and the big laughs with equal measures. The curious relationship with his therapist Barb is a familiar source of amusement throughout, the constant thread of narrative tying the beginning to the end. Career Suicide is a wonderful piece of storytelling with masterful timing and should be a lesson to comedians too focussed on gags per minute that sometimes less is more. And hopefully, there will be more of Gethard at the Fringe over the next few years.

★★★★ and a half.

Chris Aitken

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