Jim Tavare, who you may recognise beneath the handlebar moustache as Harry Potter’s Tom, innkeeper of the Leaky Cauldron, returns to Fringe after a 20-year hiatus, this time ditching his signature double bass act.
Instead, Tavaré returns with a mission and a story to tell. The inciting incident was a near-fatal car wreck after an errand to the hardware store for, in one of life’s cruel absurdities, supplies for a DIY chicken coop. “There’s a show in this,” Tavaré remembers thinking among the wreckage. After hearing of his fractured femur, severed hand, and six-figure medical bills, one can forgive him for trying to milk this tragedy for all its worth.
Tavaré relies heavily on PowerPoint as a visual aid, flipping through slides of x-ray photos, stitched up limbs, and the kind of vaguely-boring pet photos every dog lover has a whole album of on their iPhone. At times, this lends a similar feeling to having to sit through a relative’s meandering recount of a recent holiday. The careful preparation of images also tends to take away from the pretence of spontaneity in stand-up, and makes the accompanying quips feel overly calculated.
That being said, Tavaré holds the audience by finding humour in the details, such as the chicken wire imprint on his head after the accident or the unexpected perk of a boosted IMDB search score (two points above Ralph Fiennes, he notes).
Nearing the end and buried in a predictable segment on lessons learned and newfound gratitude, an unsung hero suddenly emerges. After a harrowing run-down of the price of healthcare in America, Tavaré concludes with “all I can say is… [slide change] Long live the NHS!” Blindsided, the room erupts in applause.
Jim Tavaré: From Deadpan to Bedpan, Laughing Horse at The Counting House, 6-26 Aug (not 13), 4.15pm