After leaving an hour of supreme nonsense from Ali Brice’s hour earlier on the Fringe, fellow Weirdo’s comedy elite member Matthew Highton waits at the back of the room waiting for it to clear, to prepare for his show of equal surreal nonsense no doubt. No he tells me, he’s doing a serious show. I don’t believe him for a second. Not until speaking to another comedian a week or two later does he confirm that he is in fact doing an hour of storytelling, this I have to see.
Things looks suspicious already as there is a standing iron board on the performance area, but he reassures the full room, that it’s the only thing in the building that can hold up his projector. Oh fair enough. With that seeming formality out of the way, Highton explains the gist of the hour, which is about his sleep problems, of chronic insomnia, night terrors and sleep talking, the latter exemplified via an app that records his outbursts, which get a good laugh from the audience and as Highton explains, are a cause of embarrassment and make him cringe everyday playing it. It marks a willingness of honesty and credibility, which makes the rest of the hour more interesting.
After explaining his vivid dreams and sleep problems, Highton transcends into stories of him growing up, the relationship with his family, playing pranks on his dad and brother, working in a bar in Leeds that can only be described as a modern day wild wild west. It’s delivered with a calmness and warm manner, that is very easy to take too. Giving the high energy performer I’ve seen Highton as, it’s a well measured restraint he has managed to deploy to tell his stories with a careful blend of being light, endearing and at the same time, funny too.
It’s the emotionally constipated relationship with his dad that really drives the hour that adds a true emotional core to the show. Highton confesses he doesn’t want the show to get or feel too dark, and tries to diffuse those potential feelings by wearing some curious knitwear that remind us of his surreal sensibilities. Arguably a majority of the stories are not all too well linked with the premise of the hour, but it is forgivable as Good Luck Sleeping Jerks marks an hour of pleasurable listening with bags of laughter and heart.