It is fairly standard practice for stand-up comedians to use common and even mundane human experiences we can all share and relate to and turn them into something funny. Whether it’s family matters or soured love affairs, Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! rather astutely focuses our attention on the necessary components for a great joke, namely that it reminds us of the ridiculous condition of being human. Bisset-Smith’s entrance to the eager Friday night audience is appropriately ludicrous in itself. Wearing a cape and crown, he struts onstage and tells us outright that he is funny and that people have died of laughter in his presence. Taking us through a summary of his life over the last year (which may or may not be entirely fabricated), he mocks himself, the audience and various celebrities as he pursues that which will set him apart from his peers.
Right from the off, Bisset-Smith grabs hold of the audience’s attention by outright forcing individuals, and indeed all of us, to actively participate with his onstage folly. He begins by telling us the punchline to what is supposedly the ‘Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe’ which turns out to be nothing but a series of emojis. As the audience offers up a weak laugh of uncertainty, he suggests that, by explaining the context, we might appreciate it fully. Beginning with a night out with friends in Shoreditch, he receives a call to say that his grandfather is in hospital and should prepare for the worst. Looking over his grandfather’s rather ordinary life, Bisset-Smith embarks on a journey to find originality. At a friend’s wedding, wearing a rather revealing ensemble, he happens upon a girl on a similar journey who changes his life.
Throughout the show, Gabriel Bisset-Smith effectively keeps his audience’s attention. This is mainly down to his infectious energy but is aided by the sheer scatter-brained format of the story. We move from shooting zombies to members of the audience cramming various foods down their throats to Bisset-Smith outlining his failed attempts to create new gameshows and reality TV shows. It’s a struggle to keep up. However, the tone of the whole evening is enjoyably silly and provides us with an opportunity to laugh wholeheartedly at the misfortunes of our host. By far the most effective of Bisset-Smith’s devices is his penchant for audience involvement. From the front row he selects a handful of unsuspecting individuals to attend him. The rest of audience laughs warmly, with just a touch of sympathy for their public humiliation. Without this shared experience, the show would not be very successful, but his personality is such that every person he targets fails to refuse their participation.
Gabriel Bisset-Smith Tells The Most Original And Funny Joke In The Universe! lacks focus and is certainly not a thought-provoking, soul-searching exercise but is still an enjoyable show nevertheless. There is also the undeniable undertone of a key 21st century struggle as he explores the difference between originality and individuality, suggesting that by simply being our truest selves, we can relinquish our obsessive need to be noticed.
Reviewed by Alex Foott