23 year old comedian Edd Hedges (Winner of 'So You Think You're Funny') has created a show which divides into definite sections; conventional circuit stand-up and storytelling. In the first half we hear about his crushing insecurities as a youngster, from his lack of sporting achievements (he’s even brought a childhood trophy for clubsman of the year…note this is not awarded for the technical skills of cricket) and his struggles with the school bully, to his relationship with his parents growing up in a tiny rural village. Having set up the location, dressing the scene with personal anecdotes drawing us into his community, Hedges goes on to explain that what he’s going to do is tell us a story. So, this first part of the show allows us to get to know a slightly shy young man, with a laid back attitude and endearing vulnerability. His jokes, whilst not ground-breaking, are self deprecating and targeted enough to win us over and evoke some sympathy for the younger Edd.
It is here the tone of the show changes, with Hedges becoming the storyteller with a minor role in the narrative, placing the other ‘characters’ (mainly his parents) at the centre of the action. The story cannot be revealed here, however what is notably evident in the show is the consideration Hedges has shown during set up, when establishing the characters in the village; the smaller visual and personal details which encourage the audience to develop a clear picture of those he references later on.
As the conclusion of the story is revealed, we discover that in the latter part of the show, Hedges is less preoccupied with the funny, and more interested in sharing his story from the perspective of an insider’s experience. It’s a bold approach for a comedian in the early stages of his career. At times the tale feels like some sort of confession that might be helping him move forward, there are moments of real emotion and it’s clear Hedges is fond of the place he grew up in, and the people he knew. He takes a chance ending the show on a lull rather than a punchline which, despite the lack of a comedic punch, generates a very different feeling amongst the audience, stopping us in our tracks somewhat.
Edd Hedges is most certainly onto something a little different here; some sort of fusion between stand-up comedy and thought provoking storytelling designed to make us stop and think. ‘Wonderland’ is a promising start from this young comedian, and I’ll be interested to see what story comes next year. His debut carries some heavy weight, and has room for a really effective set-up in which the comedy can be drawn out easily. As you’ll discover, one wonders is if the risk of omitting a final punchline works with any story he finds, or whether he’ll take a different ‘way-in’ next year.
‘Wonderland’ is definitely worth a look, for a less conventional approach to comedy. An amiable personality who uses his own personal experience to make us take stock of our own lives.