I’m not completely sure whether George Lewis is an invented character. I’ve no doubt that what Lewis displays on stage is at least a close approximation of his real mannerisms, but then it’s hard to shake the feeling that a man this nervous probably could not perform stand up comedy without bursting into tears. He’s all seemingly involuntary breaths and stutters, as if he’d rather be doing anything else but telling jokes in a crowded room but he’s in too deep to stop now. Exaggerated or not, the anxious affect of Lewis’ stage persona is affable and certainly works in the comedy’s favour.
A Man, a Plan, a Girl With Fake Tan is for the most part a story show, detailing Lewis’ ill-fated, awkward attempt at wooing a high school crush. This narrative through-line is punctuated throughout with little anecdotal digressions and a hearty sprinkling of more traditional one-liners. It is for the most part a very competent show, with Lewis displaying a particular talent for obfuscating a punchline for maximum comic dissonance when he inevitably says exactly what you weren’t expecting.
There’s a solid few duds to be found but nothing that stops the show’s momentum aside from some low-rent gay jokes that aren’t so much offensive as lazy. I’ve no illusions that Lewis is homophobic, or even the slightest bit malicious in including these gags, but they read to me as following comic logic something along the lines of “not normal = funny, gay = not the normal way to be, therefore funny.” Again, these weren’t intolerant or bigoted, just a sort of bumbling stab at getting a laugh that’s a bit dull in a cultural climate I’d have hoped would have moved on from finding the very idea of a straight man in a gay bar somehow inherently comical. I’m inclined to give Lewis the benefit of the doubt and say that it wasn’t his intention for gayness itself to come across as the punchline but intended or not it still absolutely came off that way to me. Anyway, anyone who’s been in a gay bar in 2018 will know they’re bloody packed with heterosexuals these days.
It’s not a deal breaker at any rate and I hate to go on about it in a review of something I quite enjoyed, but it feels remiss to avoid bringing it up. Aside from that slip it’s a show I can recommend. Equal parts clever and daft for the majority of its time and good fun for fans of people doing very stupid things in the name of love. Lewis is a witty, awkwardly charismatic comic, he’d be right at home on a panel show if that’s your thing.
★★★ (and a half)