The Fringe, whether you know it or not, is about finding your next great love. However, this love comes in the form of a show that you award five stars. Most people find their five star love relatively easily: the writers I’m living with found theirs before the halfway point of the Fringe but I was just about to enter my third week with no five star romance in sight. I felt like the Fringe’s equivalent of Bridget Jones: desperate and considering giving any half decent prospect a chance. However, I decided to stay true to myself and not lower my standards; if I gave an average to good show five stars, I wouldn’t just be lying to them, I’d be lying to myself.
When I sat down in the theatre to watch The Boy With Tape On his Face, I wasn’t feeling particularly hopeful. Yes, many people may have recommended him to me, but I’d been to a lot of shows that had been recommended and afterwards had been left feeling more convinced than ever that I would spend the entirety of the Fringe more single than a single digit. However, it turns out you have to review a lot of two star frogs before you meet Prince Charming, because within ten minutes of The Boy beginning his show, I knew he was the one. I had finally found my five star love.
So what is it about The Boy? What makes him different from all the others? I guess I should start with the obvious: he doesn’t utter a word. This already makes him every girl’s dream. However, as well as being resolutely silent, he manages to make me laugh, and not just those polite chuckles I’ve given to some of the other comedians, but an actual belly laugh that makes tears form in my eyes. His humour isn’t vulgar or insulting but quite frivolous, only aided by props and backing music which varies from Cher to the William Tell Overture. It may sound like a juvenile show to watch someone get a toothbrush and act like it’s a propeller prior to him becoming an aeroplane before pretending he is sky diving on a swivel chair, but in a world where comedians generate laughs at someone else’s expense or think being successful equates to being controversial, it’s refreshing to watch inoffensive humour.
One of the most attractive and distinctive things about The Boy is that he wants you to be part of his lively show, and he exudes an innocence that wins you over in seconds: it makes you more than willing to play along with him. Much of it involves him choosing various audience members to come up on stage and help him, whether it’s making them play golf or pretending to be a ballerina. He’s a man of rare communication, and has a talent of speaking to the members of the audience he brings up on stage with facial expressions and hand gestures alone. And there is always complete respect; this is a big part of why I fell head over heels. Popular comedians such as Frankie Boyle are not only offensive but often have a complete disregard for their audience. From the moment The Boy seemingly wanders onto the stage to backing music reminiscent of nursery rhymes, you know he’s not a comedian who is going to be laughing at your expense.
After finally awarding someone my first five stars, I felt like I’d joined the Fringe’s equivalent of the smug married couples’ club. I didn’t have to worry anymore, I’d found what I’d been looking for. I could preach at people who were still looking for their great love: ‘Don’t worry! You’ll find it when you’re least expecting it! I was just about to give up when I saw The Boy with Tape On his Face!’ My love is unrequited, though: if you look closely at his left hand, there’s a silver band on his third finger.