Alfie Brown: -ism

Alfie Brown has a real problem with moral absolutism. All the isms, actually. Even vegetarianism. Think what you like about any of them, and have a high regard of them if you will – but fail to question them at your peril.

The shift in tone is reflected in the progress of Brown’s magnificent impressions, which start somewhere around Kirstie Allsopp and reach their peak at Noam Chomsky.

That’s the real drive of this engaging set – a call for useful debate between opposing and entrenched ideologies – but it’s mostly shrouded in such warm and unflattering personal detail that you might not notice until it’s too late. He’ll have you unwittingly adjusting your perception of the term ‘pro-abortion’ even as you laugh at a pretentious acquaintance of his.

The hour of seemingly straightforward observational stand-up falls into two distinct halves. Brown’s personal situation is covered in an opening section on his friends, his surprise route into fatherhood and his baby boy. He delights in grossing out his audience with some daring takes on childbirth, suicide and paedophilia.

In these cases the stakes are high, and it’s the most personally revealing stuff that scoops up most of the chips. The remainder are taken by a beautifully constructed segment on watching 24-hour news with his newborn son, which generates almost unanimous applause.

The occasional callback to this first section doesn’t quite succeed in marrying it to the second, more cerebral half, which concentrates primarily on the inflexible nature of politics and systems of belief. The shift in tone is reflected in the progress of Brown’s magnificent impressions, which start somewhere around Kirstie Allsopp and reach their peak at Noam Chomsky, via Nigel Farage. All of a sudden we’re on disarmingly erudite subject matter, the zenith of which sees dull, inconclusive TV debates brilliantly reimagined.

Underlying it all is the sense that he’s onto something rather special. Brown is initially too wary of exposing us to his withering intellect, but when he unveils it, it's clear he's capable of lucid and, dare I say it, worthy societal commentary. 

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Performances

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The Blurb

Alfie Brown is a white man from London, shockingly. He is currently the only comedian working in the UK to not have appeared on Daily Brunch with Ocado. Is ideology inherited? Does it inculcate through socialisation? Are wordy blurbs repellant? Why? This show is about the tribalism of -ism. ***** (Uber). 'In an age when conformity appears to be a prime commodity, Alfie Brown creates work that is truly intoxicating and a boon to those who want their stand-up to actually mean something' **** (List).

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