SmartArse, Rob Gee, Leicester, UK. Green venue, 60 minutes, $10. (Discounts: Seniors, students, Fringe volunteers.)
By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater
Rob Gee calls himself a stand-up poet, but he’s a lot more than that. Sure, he performs stand-up comedy (across his native England, Canada, Australia and the U.S.), and he intersperses his comedy with long, droll story-poems that are so funny and conversational that you’re only barely aware they’re in rhyme.
But Gee has another talent, and it’s not one you often see in stand-up. It’s compassion, and it turns SmartArse into way more than the title might suggest.
Gee, a former psychiatric nurse, now works teaching comedy to schoolchildren, and his efforts to give them confidence in themselves rub off on his comedy.
He can go on hilariously about his dad (who is said to look exactly like Gee but 30 years older “so even more like a potato”), or about the woes of Scottish food (the double-deep-fried doner-kebab pizza) or about Nancy Reagan and “just say no.”
But no matter how cheeky his comedy, there’s that underlying kindness. Just listen to his long story about an incompetent maths teacher in England’s equivalent of middle school, when the student-inmates try to take over the asylum, and you’ll wind up finding your sympathy lies in very different places than where, at the beginning of the piece, you thought it would. Gee might be a smart-ass. But his kind of smart-ass is in all too short supply.
Saturday May 28, 2:55 p.m.
Sunday May 29, 6:15 p.m.