Pete Firman ‘Hokum’, Festival Fringe review

Pete Firman is a funny man. The star of Channel Four’s Dirty Tricks programme is performing a solo show at the student flat resembling, and smelling, Underbelly venue at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Pete Firman is a short self deprecating guy with lots of hair. He brings his tricks and wit from Middlesbrough, complete with a well pronounced and clear accent. He has a great stage presence and endears himself in a way that builds a great rapport with the audience.

Pete Firman's Hokum billboard poster for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007

If I was given the outline to Pete Firman’s Hokum show, before seeing it, I would have been hesitant to say the least. Some of the content should be downright cringe worthy and would in many a comedians hand sink like the proverbial lead balloon e.g. the ritz cracker magic dust or a talking tennis ball which catches cards in it’s mouth, while kissing audience members. The difference though is Pete Firman’s delivery. The content is sometimes still cringe worthy, yet Pete makes it hugely entertaining and hilarious. For the first time this Festival I found myself genuinely consumed by a show: my attention and enthusiasm kept throughout.

It’s clear from the onset that Pete Firman is one of the most comfortable people performers you will see at the Fringe. His interaction with the audience is brilliant. He really can ad lib with the best of them.

The funniest moment of Hokum, for me, was when Pete Firman ripped a love letter into pieces and then took the presumed trick into a piece of excellent comedy. One of Pete’s famous tricks is eating a lit twenty pack of cigarettes on stage. However the law prevented this; Pete did threaten to ignore the ban, to which Edinburgh City Council threatened to close the whole Underbelly venue. Incidentally I’m sure they could close the venue down anyhow on Health and Safety reasons; the toilets smell as bad as many I recently encountered in China. It’s ok though, because as Pete says, the Council can’t stop him putting a mouse into a blender on stage. Of course the mouse came back to life (as they’re apparently indestructible), but you couldn’t help think back to the earlier content, where one trick (if done properly) would only work with a surplus of identical twins.

One of Pete’s tricks was constructed to show the mechanics underneath it i.e. a ’snatcher’ which would pull a handkerchief up his sleeve when his knees came together. Here stood Pete Firman with his trousers down by his ankles, wobbling his knees together to invoke the snatcher. He wore green and yellow underpants. Again you wanted to cringe, but couldn’t help but laugh. A lot.

Hokum is a terrifically constructed show, which I left thinking warranted a solid four stars. But much of the humour sticks in memory and recites itself in your thoughts in the days afterwards, never failing to bring a smile to your face. So now I award it a full five stars. A definite Edinburgh Festival Fringe must see.

Pete Firman’s Hokum show is on 7pm nightly at the White Belly at the Smirnoff Underbelly from the 2nd to 26th August (except the 14th). Pete Firman also has a book available Tricks to Freak Out Your Friends which may be worth checking out if you’re a fan.

The Edinburgh Blog will shortly be reviewing Jerry Sadowitz, Playing Burton, Frank Skinner and Bad Film Club.

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