Jim Campbell: Beef

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Just the Tonic at the Caves
Aug 1 – 24 (17.20)

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I love the layout of Just the Tonic at the Caves; it’s like entering some kind of military HQ – a perfect venue for a courageous comedian. Enter Jim Campbell with his new stand-up show, lovingly named “Beef”. Setting the scene, Jim told us about his anxiety and depression at the state of his life. He didn’t seem to be too upset about the world at large, however, asking us to understand and join him in his depression, wanting us to be relaxed and, well, weird. He eased us in to his weirdness with some smaller jokes, but as his own confidence and stature grew, so did the material. It was clear that this was a performer who totally knew his stuff, seeming not to even need to take a breath between sentences.

Was he using the stage as a kind of therapy? A way to answer the voices in his head; which made him mock and doubt his ideas? A way to cope with the fact that life was nowhere near where he thought it would be, with no wife, no car, and a burning desire to take a rerun and do it all again, a maddening proposition in itself. He continually asked the audience if they too had voices or; wishes for a life’s rerun. This rhetoric and the way it was delivered was hilarious. Especially when he referred to the history of his infamous Campbell ancestors; who’d been the “baddies” at Glencoe. Was he in fact trying to find a way to overcome the family curse? I have a feeling that Jim Campbell enjoyed the venue as much as I did – it was, as I said, a perfect fit for him and his raw comedy.

Mental health issues seem to be increasingly being addressed at the Fringe, with comedy at the head of what is almost a movement of its own. Are we glad to see awareness raised or is it just because we love to laugh at misfortune? With a comedian like Jim Campbell you were never quite sure, and I don’t think that he was either! What I am sure of is that this guy’s punchlines will keep you entertained for the full hour as he shares his struggles to find inner peace.

 Daniel Donnelly

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