When Adam Hess comes sprinting up the centre aisle, jumping onto his stage like Peter Pan through Wendy’s window, you know that what lies ahead will be pacy and energetic. However if you've never seen him before, you won't quite believe the extent of this chap’s persona. At times his nervous energy is so extreme it's almost impossible to fathom how the words unravel so cleverly, as surely at this speed it would be all too easy to completely lose your way and in doing so, lose your audience? Not so in the case of this show.
Following his Best Newcomer nomination for the 2015 Edinburgh Comedy Awards, Hess is back at the Fringe with his second hour, ‘Feathers’, and once again it's a fast paced sprint through his wildly eccentric stream of consciousness. This year his show has a stronger sense of the narrative, though when watching Hess, you can’t help but imagine a pristine notebook in which is a beautifully written plan which Hess has grabbed hold of and scrawled all over! To create this much disarray on stage there has to be some serious structure underneath. The premise of the show is that of a break up, the search for a new lady friend and his ‘near as damn it’ big TV break, but Hess attacks this structure from all sides with the brilliantly random sparks of eccentricity that trigger some of the weirdest one liners you're likely to hear. This is a guy whose mum sends dried used tea-bags to junk mail companies; I mean, I ask you!
Through all the mayhem, ‘Feathers’ is an absolute gem. Hess’ stage persona is a massive juxtaposition in itself, the breathless rapid-fire speech might run a risk of becoming inaccessible if he didn't have such a strong grasp of timing and completely relatable material. His awkward physicality, childlike giggle and wide eyed facial expression make you feel like a pack of naughty teenagers laughing at a teacher’s misfortune; except somehow, Hess has us laughing at situations he's been in that are really quite awful. The story of ‘Freya Beautiful’ is as gut-wrenching as it is ridiculous, and some tales from his youth warrant a hug more than the hilarity ensuing in the room. I've never known anyone fixate on their own stupidity for such an extended period of time, and it seems as though he only wants to give us as many examples of it as the clock will allow! The way he manages to bring us back to the initial structure out of so many tangents and curveballs is quite extraordinary.
It's at this point you realise how stealthily Adam Hess has taken control of his audience. He is like one of those people who asks you a question and then answers it for you…except where they are generally irritating and frustrating, you feel like with Hess you could just sit back and have him explain to you how weird your own life has been without you even realising it! My guess is that the year ahead is going to be extremely exciting for this sparky comedian. TV must surely be on the horizon, even if he did come off looking might strange in front of a TV executive this year (another hilarious set piece from this hour), and you feel sure that with some commercial exposure this loveable maniac will he catapulted to mainstream fame.
Adam Hess in ‘Feathers’ is playing at The Hive until 28th August.