ThIs year Stuart Goldsmith seems to arrive on stage fresh from a rom-com movie. He has left London to move in with his partner in the country, proposed marriage and now has a family to take care of, and so forms the structure of one of the most warm hearted, sincere hours of material you're likely to see at a festival full of artists preoccupied with pushing boundaries. If some say it’s a ‘safe’ hour, I'd be inclined to disagree; a simple structure and subject matter means the comedian has only himself to rely on, and Goldsmith excels. He begins with the admission that he is ‘trying to be less involved’ and grow up, and somehow what follows makes me think of a male version of Bridget Jones. It works beautifully.
Goldsmith has shaped this material cleverly, beginning with some amusing anecdotes of bygone times, made even more hilarious by his skill of throwing unexpected comments in at the last minute. An especially funny moment springs to mind where he reinforces his wilder days of the past while talking about the tried and tested technique of guys who pretend to be gay to get in with the ladies, where ‘most fall at the final hurdle…not this hero!’
What is most impressive about the hour is how, through his sharp wit and word-play, Goldsmith delivers the literal, everyday events of a man in his late 30s with just as much impact as other comedians who are creating weird and wonderful stories full of exaggeration. The latter part of the hour revolves around his experiences in the early months of fatherhood. There are some genuinely sweet moments; doubts that he'll make enough money for financial security so instead being focused on making his baby laugh for first time, and is clearly desperate to make a life for his family. Of course, the “I know you don't care about my baby” line is thrown in but based on the laughter from men and obligatory ‘coos’ from the ladies it appears the audience are, for the most part, happy to listen.
As most know from either having seen him previously, or listening to the Comedian’s Comedian Podcast, Goldsmith has an easy-going, friendly nature, which is only further enhanced by such a warm hour of material. Despite opening the show with the proclamation of self involvement, it's clear from his obvious joy and complete self-effacement this is an intelligent introduction to a tale of real life experiences. If the worst of his ‘suffering’ is brought about by the culture shock of leaving London, then the joy and anticipation of the future has given Goldsmith a wealth of material to delve into. Comedy lovers have a been given a treat this year as “Compared To What” is on the Free Fringe schedule. With such a beautiful, warm-hearted hour, and only standing room available on most days, I hope audiences are giving generously at the end of the show.
Clever, honest and funny, Stuart Goldsmith has hit the nail on the head this year.