This is political stand-up at its best. Neither hectoring nor dull, there are laughs throughout the show as McElroy, an American resident in Britain for the past 16 years, talks the audience through the American election and the candidates. What McElroy is especially good at is explaining, in an endearingly witty way, just what on earth is going on in America. When it comes to the jokes McElroy builds a quick rapport with the audience and is unafraid to take risks. On the very few occasions where his jokes didn’t come off his razor-sharp reactions led to a big laugh almost immediately afterwards.
Fantastic value for money and a highly enjoyable lunchtime hour.
McElroy, a self-described political nerd, came to the Fringe two years ago with a show he calls the only “explicitly against Scottish independence” comedy that year, and it did not go well. Perhaps because of his own personal connection, and perhaps because American politics is just distant enough to be subjected to honest analysis this show certainly does go well. It is extremely funny and sympathetic, riffing off his now dual British-American identity and his background in small-town America to talk about politics in a way that manages to avoid the repetitive liberal sneer beloved of many comics. McElroy does not look down upon Trump voters as is so-often the case with British comedians, and as he says, after Brexit, who are we to talk? McElroy does not, and this is a real relief, compare Trump repeatedly to Hitler. I must agree with McElroy that Hitler comparisons are completely and utterly overused these days.
Whether you are only slightly switched into the news cycle, or an American political obsessive who has read all of Caro’s LBJ volumes and watched every episode of the West Wing, this is a show with something for you. McElroy’s pitch is that he is mainstream, and no political radical (some of his patient disregard is also reserved for Bernie Sanders), but his analysis is not conventional, with anecdotes to delight nerds but still explained for the whole audience to laugh along. One of his major reference points is the now forgotten former Vice President Dan Quayle, who once famously told a schoolchild that word “potato” had “an e on the end”. As McElroy repeatedly says, in politicians he looks for people who can spell potato.
This is a Free Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, and as McElroy says in his pitch for cash at the end, if it was at Pleasance it would be priced very highly. Even with a contribution to McElroy’s Uncle Sam hat, this is fantastic value for money and a highly enjoyable lunchtime hour.