Wiseboy, Rhys James. Pleasance Courtyard ***1/2


Rhys James lets us know he is a millennium baby before he even gets on stage. His audio visual opening plants him firmly in the world of social media and use of his parents in voiceover indicates he’s not quite far enough along the path to manhood to have fully cut the umbilical cord. That said, once he starts talking, James proves to be an intelligent, opinionated young man, with a mind geared into the construction of guaranteed laughs. 

‘Wiseboy’ is a well structured hour, full of insightful observations made comical by James’ tendency to overanalyse. He comes across slightly paranoid at times, making the impact of his gags all the more funny. However, there are times where one wishes he would find a ‘way-in’ which was more mature. His youthful appearance and the fact that he is, so clearly, a part of the Twitter generation indicate his delivery as appropriate, however the content would be equally as funny (and it is funny already) if it didn’t emerge out of parental anecdotes and the teething problems of his housemate. This sounds over critical perhaps, which isn’t exactly intentional, it’s just that one gets the feeling James is about to come into his own; and this opinionated young man is ready to validate his own opinions and ideas from a more mature place, rather than relying on his youth to create impact. 

The show revolves mostly around the impact of karma, and is delivered through current pop culture reference points. James’ wholly confident stage persona places him as ‘the voice of the 20-somethings’ and he, correctly, knows the laughs will be there. For the 30+ age audience members, the deeper level of intellect is there (he’s an extremely bright young man), however James needs to work out how to pitch the material so the impact is equally effective to all. On the night of review, there were a couple of moments where an audience member (I would guess of around 30) decided to assert their authority. Despite it taking up a little time, James was able to hold is own, ensuring we remained in a world that was on his terms. His wit is too quick for a heckler’s attempt at attention. He is a comedian right on the verge of universal appeal, and I suspect next year has big things in store. 

‘Wiseboy’ is an polished hour from a modern young man on the verge of manhood. Smart, intelligent and engaging.