I’ve finally figured out who Mat Ewins puts me in mind of. I’ve seen him three times now and I’ve got it. It’s Hugh Laurie. Now, not Hugh Laurie the actor, but if anyone’s watched A Bit of Fry and Laurie or Jeeves and Wooster they know the kind of infectious nervous energy he can bring to a comedy performance. Mat Ewins has that energy coming out of his ears and it’s not only satisfying to finally put my finger on it, it’s also a key ingredient in his success. There’s a sense of momentum that springs from his delivery, all words falling over themselves and exaggerated expressions. It may seem quite off the cuff but it’s a carefully crafted delivery that singles him out as a wholly unique performer.
But delivery is only one half of Mat Ewins’ comedy stylings. The other is his multimedia creations that lace in and out of the show with practised ease. Throughout the whole show we get funny little videos and special effects he’s prepared, some of them taking weeks or even months to produce I’m sure. They are as phenomenal as ever here.
I normally don’t like to discuss previous performances too much in reviews, but it’s important here. Mat Ewins is easily one of my favourite Fringe performers, his two previous shows were five star affairs for me and this is one too. See, this show isn’t quite as well constructed as the last couple of his shows that I’ve seen, but that still puts it miles ahead of anything else at the Fringe. If the most important metric for comedy is laughs, then this show is winning just based on that. I’ve seen better constructed, more tightly produced shows (I’ve seen them from Mat Ewins himself) but very little that contains so much raw laughter. Ewins has a special talent for constructing absurd sideshows with a laptop, but it’s where those funny little distractions and projects intersect with his comic delivery that produces rolling waves of guffaws from a crowd. It’s the sort of laughter that leaves you feeling tired after it.
I’m consistently baffled that Ewins doesn’t seem to get more recognition than he does because his work is leaving so many other comics rolling around in the dust. Maybe this sort of stuff just clicks with me on some indefinable level but it’s so so so funny to me that I’m left puzzled at how others don’t feel that too.
This year’s outing is a messier show than Ewins’ previous efforts. The performance I saw had more technical hiccups than usual, but even with that it’s a delight to witness. Despite the issues, this one easily gets full marks. It’s frankly impossible to hold them against it. Tonight is the last chance to see this show. Do not miss it.