Queuing outside Venue 51 and exploring the surprising sources of the numerous quotes about drinking written on the walls of The Tron, I heard Steve Bugeja’s name pronounced at least five times, no two versions sounding even remotely similar. The fact that the comedian’s last name is unpronounceable – or, to be more precise, is pronounced by different people in very different ways – is exactly where the show takes its name from. However, as Steve himself explained soon after getting onto the stage, this title has nothing to do with the actual content of the act. So, this is clearly one of those cases that demonstrate you should not judge a book by its cover.
What the show looks at instead is how people make decisions and what parts of our body may be inclined to get involved in this process. The act is full of contradictions, the title being only the first of many. For instance, Steve Bugeja warns his audience that what they are about to see is “not an interactive show”, yet spends much of it picking on an unlucky guy in the front row, playing charades with that unlucky guy’s pal, and asking the rest to shout out offensive names for the audience from the previous night. Similarly, the comedian confesses his performance is not about politics, only to start talking about the corruption levels of South American governments, ISIS, the EU referendum and immigration. The latter resulted in a few comments that made the audience tangibly uncomfortable. They might have gone down better south of the border, or potentially at a later stage when these issues are no longer quite as topical and sensitive for large groups of the society, but on this occasion Steve Bugeja really should have stuck to his original plan of not touching upon politics at all. His chat about other topics you may recently have seen in the news, such as the Olympics or the latest edition of “Harry Potter”, received a much warmer welcome.
Steve is a young guy with a squeaky voice he swears is not just part of his stage character, slightly awkward and dressed surprisingly nicely for a Fringe comedian. He is also the owner of the longest fingers you will ever see. For large chunks of the show, he held those fingers spread in front of him in a fan-like manner, stealing attention from what he was saying and making you wonder how someone with fingers like that does not make a career playing the piano. Or maybe doing street magic – those fingers were truly mesmerising! What also jumps out at you in Steve, other than his remarkable hands, is that he seems to be a genuinely nice guy. In fact, he looks like someone who has niceness featuring a lot more prominently among his virtues than the quick wit and sharp sense of humour typical for many stand-up comedians. All “Unpronounceable” managed to get out of me was a few fairly reserved smiles, and while some other audience members (primarily those who had clearly made good use of the bar at the venue) laughed heartily at a few jokes, they also spent much of the show just smiling quietly.
Steve Bugeja’s act does not have a consistent style, swinging constantly between his touching story of how he ended up with his girlfriend and below-the-belt jokes about porn, comparatively serious musings about life and graphic images of being in a jacuzzi with your grandma while watching your elderly relatives strip. Complete with never-ending swearing, questionable remarks about racism and imitations of male genitalia, this is definitely not a show for a family outing. But if you leave your kids at home, get a few drinks in yourself beforehand, as recommended by the quotes on the walls of the venue, and tune into your most laid back mood, this could be a suitable show to keep in mind for a rainy afternoon.
About the guest reviewer:
Maria Polyakova lives in Edinburgh and works in Digital Marketing. She loves theatre, folk dancing, short story writing, and discovering foreign languages and cultures. She can be followed on Twitter at @Melorwen.
A ticket was provided to enable this review.