Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (comedy): Josh Howie – AIDS: A survivor’s story at Canon’s Gait (Venue 78). Review by Kate Copstick
I saw Josh Howie’s first show and yes there were glitches, but I know a five-star show when I see one and this is a five-star show. Howie is the most mild-mannered of comedic personalities and so when he gently, diffidently offers up moments of exquisitely crafted satire wrapped in a painfully naïve memoire peppered with painstakingly sharpened barbs aimed unerringly at everything and everyone from Sex and the City to the late Princess Diana, the audience is torn between hilarity and horror.
His initial recap of the epidemiology of the Aids virus sets the mood, and the thought bubbles reading “OMG I can’t believe he just… oh no, now I am laughing… well… to be fair, he’s right…” are popping up across the room.
The show is beautifully, intelligently written. By a man who grew up with HIV. As it were. That, combined with Howie’s geeky, owlish, “Woody-Allen-as-a-boy” delivery means that the little bombs of acid content that he drops are like finding raw chilli in your 70 per cent pure dark chocolate.
Howie is brilliantly clever, honest, utterly engaging and absolutely fearless with this show.
From the moment he explores the subtle subtexts in the work of Frankie Goes to Hollywood through his many illuminating “Aids Facts”, his exploration of the benefits of having Aids (yes, both he and I know he is using the term Aids instead of HIV positive, but this too is explained onstage) and his unspeakable yet undeniable thoughts on the demographics of the epidemic that spawned a thousand advertising campaigns, he provokes thoughts as well as laughs, giggles as well as gasps and, from those in the room who are honest enough, at least a modicum of sympathy.
Actors, Scots and comedians who do panel shows might get a bit miffed by some of Howie’s material, but no-one else should. This is an extraordinarily brave and brilliant show on a subject you might think had been squeezed of all its entertainment potential. And from a man who almost certainly doesn’t have Aids.
Until 23 August. Today 2:25pm, more info
Originally published in The Scotsman