Looking like the love child of the Hairy Bikers, Scottish comedian Ben Verth hits the stage with excellent vigour in the Monkey Barrel 5, the comedy club he had a big part in starting (and kudos to the fella). Even if he had no hand in Monkey Barrel, no one would argue against him meriting a room there for the month. A seasoned MC and it’s evident here as he confidently addresses the crowd and myself being the reviewer as I’m obviously sitting on my todd. Some reassuring giggles from the crowd suggest that everyone is on his side and he does a very fine job doing so from start to finish.
In all honesty, I wasn’t particularly excited by the show title Shitegeist. It’s lovely Scottish colloquialism but doesn’t suggest nuance. And like the title, the material is fairly shy of depth, intrigue and originality. Stories about him cheating on his diet, wearing a fit bit, his general neuroticism and hypochondria are all have a very broad feel to them. That is not intended to sound snobbish, but I found myself frustrated watching a comedian doing very club friendly and crowd pleasing material when I can sense there’s a very good comic brain lurking in the dark, with the potential to be lyrical and maybe wants to challenge an audience. From the script, you feel he has the ability to deliver each line with more weight and punch, but doesn’t. I don’t know if it’s a lack of confidence, or idleness, but if Ben Verth considered every line he was saying and was prepared to challenge his audience with more tricky and philosophical material, then I think he could have a proper knockout hour. But at the time being, there’s a general safeness about Shitegeist that will please audiences but I don’t feel will wow them. Still, you have to admire his confidence and geniality on the stage and delivers a lull free hour of comedy from start to finish.
Ben Verth: Shitegeist 21:55 Monkey Barrel 5