Simon Evans has always been a solid comedian. He’s the sort of consistent 4-star performer (spoilers) who is reliably enjoyable to spend an hour with. Age hasn’t done anything to dull his comic sensibilities, even if it has turned him into a bit of crotchety old man.
Evans is refreshingly self-aware of his increasingly curmudgeonly attitudes, fully admitting that it could be nothing but the insidious action of age on his faculties that is fuelling his perplexity for modern life. Thankfully, it’s done nothing to stymie his trademark eloquence. He certainly sounds intelligent and frequently is a surprisingly insightful observational comic. If anything sets him apart from his peers it’s his consistently erudite and scholarly approach to stand-up comedy.
Genius is ostensibly about the notion of genius and intelligence. Evans does much to make his show as informative as it is funny. Throughout the hour he bemoans the lack of genius and intellectual achievement that is presumably readily apparent in modern Britain. While it’s easy to get swept up in his loquacious barbs, it is worth noting that his predications on the nature of superior intellect are somewhat outdated. Judging great historical geniuses by the standards they themselves set is bound to end awkwardly. He is, however, primarily on stage to be funny and not accurate, which is one achievement that is readily apparent. Evans has always had a flair for the unexpected and much of his humour springs from his talent for obfuscating a punchline until the precise moment he’s arrived at it.
There’s undoubtedly an air of “old man yells at cloud” about Genius, but it’s not like he’s your racist grandad. As I said, Evans is perfectly prepared to accept that he’s maybe just entered the elderly curmudgeon stage of life. The worst that could be said of Genius is that in occasionally pining for an idealised past, the uncomfortable inequalities of that past are uncomfortably sidestepped, but it would be disingenuous to say that it stems from any malice.
Genius is Simon Evans doing what Simon Evans does best and that is basically doing Jean-Luc Picard comedy cosplay. He’s eloquent, witty, old-fashioned, and blessedly self-aware. A reliable comic turning out to keep on doing what he’s always been doing: making you laugh with big words.