For his fourth outing at the Fringe, Josh Pugh delivers an hour of funny and surreal stories about trying for a baby, fatherhood, and his myriad flaws as a boyfriend. Winner of the Birmingham Breaking Talent Award (2015) and English Comedian of the Year Award (2016), Pugh is a charming and generous performer who knows his craft well and wins the audience over with ease from the outset. Pugh has amassed millions of views on social media – his Twitter feed is a veritable goldmine – though this does not always translate into a good hour of stand-up and indeed for many comics the longer-form structure can dilute the qualities which make for a successful thirty-second video. This is decidedly not the case with Pugh, who leaves to thunderous applause and friends repeating the jokes to one another outside.
The show is loosely rooted in Pugh’s experiences as a partner and father, though often veer into absurdist reflections on a whole number of subjects. British dads are lampooned for their constant fear that they are going to be fleeced by everyone they meet and he juxtaposes the communicative nature of his grandad with that of his father – who is so emotionally repressed he takes to burning unwanted possessions in the back yard. The bit is a good encapsulation of Pugh’s entire routine; funny and warm, but with a surreal undertone throughout. He describes Covid rumbling along like Big Brother when it was moved to Channel 5 and leads us down a funny thought experiment on the prospect of cockney refugees in the wake of nuclear Armageddon. In an endearing fashion, Pugh also explore his shortcomings as a boyfriend and how stressful he imagines it is to be a baby at times. Additional highlights include Pugh taking a brave stand against the endless veneration of ‘small businesses’, initial confrontations with his stepdad, and exploring whistle-blowing opportunities during his first day at a new job.
In truth, very few of the jokes fail to land and it’s hard not to leave feeling impressed by the sheer volume of good gags. A funny and moving montage at the end is a nice touch and closes a show which will surely continue to do well at the Fringe (the room is packed, despite it being two o’clock on a Wednesday). At the core of this success lies Pugh’s amiable nature and evident good-heartedness, demonstrable as he tells enjoyably self-depreciating jokes about his own insecurities and partial blindness. This is a show worth seeing by a likeable comic who will carry on going from strength-to-strength.
Josh Pugh- Sausage, Egg, Josh Pugh, Chips and Beans is at Monkey Barrel 4, Monkey Barrel Comedy, Aug 19th to 28th, 14:10
Image credit: Sam Frank Wood, provided to The Student as press material.