Review: Ed Night – Jokes Of Love And Hate at Pleasance
4★★★★

Ed Night is a bleak, sexually ambiguous, and enthralling 23-year old stand up comedian from South London. He’s angry, earnest, attractive, perceptive, and not afraid to not tell jokes. If the mood takes him he’ll just rant away with electric tension; experimental riffs in an alternative comedy tradition. He’s a fatalistic member of the Gen Z demographic. A young socialist misanthrope with bags of talent.  

He opens this dark Fringe set declaring “it’s my Britney year”, referring to his newly shaved head. He riffs on the IRA, paedophilia, mental health, current affairs, racism, bad sex, and idealism. Watching him you get the sense that we can save our species but probably won’t; optimism of the will, pessimism of the wit. 

What’s refreshing is that he’s most withering not about well-meaning hypocrites but those who point the finger at them. People who feel the best response to climate catastrophe is to hate Greta Thunberg. People who mock the lattes and iPhones of anti-capitalists. Night characterises their position as: “if you hate prison so much then why don’t you leave?” 

He describes his OCD as “when you keep cleaning your room thinking it will make you dad come home”. His libido has been killed by the medication he’s prescribed for, and he talks in-depth about the cold, numb apathy of his sexual encounters. He talks about homophobic attacks, repressed sexuality, and reductive binaries. At times you wonder when the punchline’s coming, though he’s never a dull speaker. 

In a particularly depressing moment, he abruptly declared the set finished, though his slot was not over. Cue awkward clapping, a pained mood – the perfect environment for more of his confrontations. It’s strange to see someone so young control a room’s atmosphere in such a bold and assured way. He’s like if Stuart Lee was a punk twink. 

Ed Night at times feels almost too glum and indignant to be engaging. You wish he’d have a bit more fun, or at least a warm meal. His fierce moodiness has a magnetic charisma that is both consoling and rousing. Surely a rising star. 

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