Trevor Lock is quick to tell his audience that there are “no jokes” in his show. This, you’re probably thinking, doesn’t sound quite right. After all, what is a comedy show without jokes? Maybe this is a false statement strategically designed to lower the crowd’s expectations, thereby ensuring they’re doubly surprised and delighted when Lock eventually dishes out some side-splitting punchlines.
In actual fact, there are no jokes in Lock’s routine. There are no rehearsed anecdotes. The side-splitting punchlines never arrive. Instead, what we get is sixty minutes of ad-lib and audience input. With the chairs arranged in a way that guarantees members of the crowd are facing each other, Lock’s show feels more like a group meeting, or a bizarre conversation between strangers, than a comedy routine.
Throughout the hour, Lock proves himself skilled in the improvisation department. There might be a few lacklustre remarks here and there, and the humour can come off as a little bland sometimes, but premise of the show is a real treat for those who actually enjoy audience participation. Lock provides certain members of the crowd with a pen and paper, and asks them to note down their “thoughts, reflections and observations” over the hour. These are then read out at various points and transformed into an extended comedic bit. The result of this “social experiment” is humour that feels charmingly akin to pub banter.
This is certainly not a show for those loyal to traditional stand-up, and the ad-lib does fall a little flat on some occasions. However, the idea behind Trevor Lock’s Community Circle is undeniably original. You’re unlikely to find another show in which the audience is given quite so much control, and in which there are almost no pre-planned gags. Flaws aside, the comedian exhibits quick wit for the duration of his set, and – in terms of the show’s structure – Trevor Lock’s Community Circle is probably among the most unique comedy performances the Fringe is hosting this year.
Words: Morgan Laing
Trevor Lock’s Community Circle, Bannermans, Aug 17-27, 3pm