'In this way I shall preserve many things that would otherwise be lost in oblivion. I shall find daily employment for myself, which will save me from indolence and help to keep off the spleen, and I shall lay up a store of entertainment for my after life.'

For James Boswell posts please follow the labels on the right.

This blog mainly contains reviews from the Edinburgh Festivals from 2008 to 2010 which I wrote for the Edinburgh Festivals Magazine. These reviews cover everything from comedy to contemporary dance; children's theatre to Handel.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Matt Kirshen – Shorter than Napoleon Review

Matt Kirshen – Shorter than Napoleon

Napoleon wasn’t actually that small. 5 feet 6 inches in British measurements and 5 feet 2 in French measurements. Not bad for eighteenth-century France. The so called ‘Napoleon Complex’ – which is associated with height issues – is therefore wrong. The ‘complex’ is almost certainly a result of Napoleon having red hair and being bullied for it at military school. And then taking his frustration out on Europe.

Kirshen, either way, is definitely smaller than the little Corporal. He’s also a lot less violent, verbally aggressive and probably not as tactically clued up on eighteenth-century infantry tactics.

It’s certainly nice to see a comedian, in a world of behemoths like Rhod Gilbert or Brendon Burns, try and actually be nice. He’s the Socrates to Burns’ Leonidas; the Swiss cuckcoo clock to Gilbert’s Panzer divisions. It’s uncertain if this rouse of being nice actually works in comedy as it does in history however. The results are weak, unconvincing and often dull.

Obviously being small and non-confrontational, Kirshen is also left wing, and his humour reflects this. It’s a tale of attending G20 protests and talking politely to the police, travelling Europe on little more than a show string and a Guardian and becoming entangled with drugs dealers in Bordeaux.

Kirshen, if nothing else, highlights the centrality of aggression, despair and mockery in humour. Besides, without these how would the British people ever find time to talk to each other?

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