Edinburgh Review: Pete Firman – Jiggery Pokery
I’m a sucker for a good comedy magic show. Purists might argue that it’s a style taken up by magicians without the skill to take the profession seriously or comedians without the acumen to perfect gimmickless stand-up, but the same could be said for musical theatre; when done poorly, it’s a horrible, talentless mess. When done right, it highlights the beauty of both art forms. Thankfully, Pete Firman sits firmly in the talented camp.
Firman has a quick wit with a dark streak that’s revealed early in the show: “The front doors are now locked and sealed, there is no escape. We have ourselves a little Fritzl cellar here.” There’s hardly a moment of silence as he speaks quickly throughout the evening, either describing or distracting the audience from what he’s doing. This speedy dialogue could come across as nerves in another performer, but it adds to Firman’s air of impatience. He’s like an over-caffeinated genius, frustrated when we fail to keep up with him.
The mock angry frustration is also employed whenever a trick ‘fails’ – generally aimed at a volunteer who has misconstrued his instructions. At one point a mindreading trick appears to be going downhill thanks to an inept volunteer who repeatedly forgets what letters are in a word he has just read. There’s an awkward moment when another audience member asks if the volunteer is dyslexic, but Firman recovers with a few quips to ease the pressure on the embarrassed volunteer.
He doesn’t stick to one style of trick for long either, jumping between mindreading, escapology, and illusions. His showmanship is beautiful, sprinkling enough jokes to make even the dullest of actions entertaining: “I’m going to show you a few card shuffling techniques now. This one’s called ‘the self harmer’ – it’s just a couple of cuts to get your attention.” The tricks are not always mind-boggling (if you’ve watched Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, you’ll probably know the secret behind half of the illusions), but the execution is flawless and I didn’t spot a single slight of hand despite knowing where to look.
Jiggery Pokery is a fun show of wit and wizardry for a very reasonable price (“Those props don’t come cheap”). If your only experience of comedy magic is seeing Bobo the clown at a kids birthday party, it’s time to see what the new generation have brought to the table. Who knew sharp suits and swearing could be magical?
Pete Firman: Jiggery Pokery is at the Pleasance Dome until 28th August at 8:30pm.