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JORDAN BROOKES: BODY OF WORK

Comedy

Venue:Finnegan's Wake, 9b Victoria Street Edinburgh EH1 2HE
Phone: 0131 225 9348
Links: Click Here for venue details, Click here for map
Ticket Prices: Free  
Room: The Back Room
AUG 3-13 at 18:15 (60 min)
 
Show Image

In August 2015 Jordan’s Nanna, Gwendoline Martha Brookes, passed away. She was 95. This show is a genuine attempt to pay tribute to her.

That can’t be the whole thing can it? I thought Jordan Brookes did absurdist stuff? Like, bits that go on for ages and horrible physical stuff, daft faces, etc? Is he just going to talk about his Nan for an hour? Surely not.

Chortle Award Best Newcomer nominee returns with his third solo hour of high-wire stand-up and absurdism.

'Funny and surprising - you’re advised to see Brookes fast before word of mouth fills every seat’ ★★★★ (Scotsman)

‘A breath-taking, hugely original hour’ ★★★★★ (Fest Mag)

‘A tricksy nugget of meta-comedy’ (Guardian)

‘Doesn’t sacrifice laughs for the sake of artistic stretch’ ★★★★ (Chortle)

★★★★★ (Mirror)

Presented by Show And Tell


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News and Reviews for this Show

August 26, 2017 British Comedy Guide
British Comedy Guide recommended show 2017
Someone needs to invent a new descriptor so we can correctly label the work of Jordan Brookes. It's not stand-up, it's not acting... his show, which sees him stalking around his small room, is somewhere in the middle. What we can be clear on is that it's captivating, bold, different and definitely worth a look.

British Comedy Guide Click Here

August 26, 2017  The Skinny
There are academics attempting to define all the constituent parts of comedy who'd do well to watch Jordan Brookes. There are moments in Body of Work when it seems there is no comedic skill he can't deploy. From the slightest mime to the very intonation of his words, there's nothing Brookes doesn't have in his arsenal. It makes for an exhilarating hour where anything can seem to happen, in any way.

In other words, there's the constant presence of one of the biggest comedy factors of all – surprise. It is rather tormenting at times; like the Edinburgh hour equivalent of an impish brat shouting "just kidding" at the end of every routine. He's both an unreliable narrator and a great big tease. But this is a show that is trap door after trap door, with Brookes' attempts to tell the story of his deceased nan reminiscent of Rik Mayall doing Jackanory – had that story time taken a while to get started and then bent into some seemingly psychopathic and surreal turns.

Body of Work has a structure as wrinkled and folded as the human brain, an organ where the subtlest of cognitive changes can bring down our capacity to order the world into frightful chaos. Like many comedians doing a poignant show, Brookes is making a point. Albeit he's parodying, subverting and baiting the Comedy Award judge present tonight while doing so. Or maybe he just enjoys messing with our minds.

While his own mind may have been a difficult place for Brookes at times, it is a privilege to live in his head for an hour. Click Here

August 25, 2017  One4Review
Please read the whole review, and not just the number of stars. You need to know, as Mr Bookes says, what you’re letting yourself in for – to make sure it’s a good fit with you. But if you discover that Mr Brookes’ comedy is a fit for you, oh, it is glorious.

This show, in my opinion, is Jordan really coming into his own. Though it retains all of his characteristic discomfiting, disquieting, button-pushing, it does also contain life-rafts of normality to which you can cling briefly while to get your breath. Before Jordan grabs your toes and drags you under to the surreal depths again. You’re likely to spend at least some of the show with your hands over your mouth or watching through your fingers – it’s often the sort of comedy you squawk at before you laugh.

There’s lots going on here, and the more you contemplate and reflect on it, the more you realise is in there. What seem like individual bits of worrying hilarity reveal more depth, more context and more insights when considered from the distance of an hour or a pint. There’s also the Rorschach joke, which is definitely my favourite of the Fringe.

There were a fair few poorless souls wetting themselves with laughter in this audience (I was one); far more than the few who were clearly in the wrong show. Jordan used them (and gently abused them) and made it look like a choreographed part of the show. Mr Brookes has come into his own with a show that is by no means mainstream, but definitely more accessible. Click Here

August 24, 2017  Beyond the Joke
During Jordan Brookes’ gig he suggests that he might change the face of comedy. But as he concedes, it is not clear whether it will be for better or for worse. One thing is for sure, there isn’t anybody out there quite like him.

In his latest show, Body of Work, Brookes bends the stand-up format until it shatters into tiny little pieces. He pulls out every trick in the book, from fake starts to fake finishes, from face-pulling and physical humour to messing around with the “dead dad” trope.

Brookes’ show is supposed to be about his late grandmother, although that turns out to be just one of the many strands here. This is not always easy comedy. Some of the things he suggests doing with his gran ensure that this is definitely not family entertainment.

There are also some further great, original ideas floating about here, such as his concept of “thought marbles” – those bad, often taboo, destructive ideas that roll to the front of your mind and you have to shake them back.

You can tell a performer is doing something special when you can’t spot any antecedents. I could say he is the most elastic-faced comedian since Lee Evans but that would hardly do him justice. I could say that he is the darkest comic since Doug Stanhope but that’s not right either. I think you are just going to have to see Brookes for yourself. You might not love him but you certainly won’t forget him in a hurry. Click Here

August 24, 2017  The Guardian
Is the comedy world big enough for another Hans Teeuwen? The influence of that great Dutch disturbist is unmissable in Jordan Brookes’ new show, Body of Work, which transferred from the Free Fringe to the Pleasance and has been nominated for the Edinburgh comedy award. Like Teeuwen, Brookes is here to wreak confusion and instability – not as a substitute for laughs but as an alternative route. You seldom know exactly what’s happening. You can’t take a thing he says seriously, or can you? The register – from sweet to unruly and all points in between – changes on a dime. It’s a precipitous experience, and Brookes’ boldness and talent ensures he’s never dwarfed by the comparison to the Amsterdam man.

You know you’re in slippery hands from the off, as Brookes introduces himself then fails to appear. Even when he finally does, the set is repeatedly deferred, as our host riffs on the superiority of anticipation to experience, and stages his own preposterous vocal warm up – which threatens to envelop the show. The joke, here as throughout, is how Brookes flaunts his refusal to adhere to even the most basic conventions of a standup set, to give us anything resembling what we expect. And as our expectations adjust around his odd behaviour – well, he thwarts those new expectations, too.

In other hands, that could be frustrating. But Brookes stokes a vibe that suggests we’re all in this together, prowling the room, eyeballing us, daring us to deny the ridiculousness of the enterprise – his show and, one senses, standup in general. As the text is interrupted by conversations with a mime dog, or as his body starts finding things funnier than he does, Brookes communicates a degree more warmth than Teeuwen. He’s less aggressive, more obviously playful. But there is nothing cosy about Body of Work: standout moments include an elastic-limbed dumbshow of teenage autofellatio and a confessional speech about sexual attraction to his gran.

That same grandmother latterly supplies a structuring principle: the show is, we’re told, about her dementia. But we know better, don’t we, than to take anything Brookes says on trust? You can identify in Body of Work a mickey-take of heart-on-sleeve standup shows about personal trauma. Or you can enjoy it as an hour trapped in Brookes’ glitching imagination, where comedy, social propriety and the self disassemble into meaningless parts. Either way, it’s a wild and welcome place to spend an hour. Click Here

August 24, 2017  Three Weeks
Ostensibly a tribute to his deceased Nanna, ‘Body of Work’ is Brookes at his finest. He wants you, the audience, to join him in trying to feel something for once. But by his own confession, he’s always got an urge to ruin things, and a mind that won’t stop wandering, disappearing down a rabbit warren of inappropriate thoughts. Erratic, fast-paced humour is mixed with awkward, drawn-out scenes that take you to the brink of discomfort through over-exaggerated gestures. Highly expressive, Brookes’ performance borders on the grotesque but remains genuinely hilarious; stunningly inappropriate jokes and twists to the narrative coalesce into a clever, but superbly dark hour of stand-up. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Click Here

August 21, 2017  Chortle
4.5*
If you go and see Jordan Brookes this Fringe, be sure to take lots of rugs… for he’ll keep pulling them out from under you.

There’s surely not a more inventive show at this festival. From an inspired corruption of the ‘Ladies and gentlemen please welcome…’ voiceover to the moment he reluctantly leaves the stage, cracking a few final quips, this is a twisty, turny ride full of playful misdirection.

There’s a flick of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’s cult classic Mr Show as he begins by doing his vocal warm-ups on stage, then he engineers a brilliant slapdown of an audience member as part of some peculiar banter, and we’re still nowhere near starting.

When he gets to the meat of the hour, it turns out to be a savvy and savage parody of those now-clichéd stand-up shows that wring emotional response from their audiences from the death of a relative. In this case, it’s Brooke’s nan who popped her clogs, and he can't even bring himself to begin to tell it, needing to be placed into his storytelling pose by brute force. And when he finally gets going, he proves that his warning of being ‘easily distracted’ was no idle disclaimer.

A few metaphors sustain the loosest of stories, from the notion of ‘bad thought marbles’ that can make their way from the back of your head to your mouth, and of listening to other parts of your body, not just your head or your heart. Turns out Brookes has an erudite arsehole. And any comic who wants ‘erudite arsehole’ as a show title next year can have it for free.

His fine, peculiar brain doesn’t work like anyone else’s – which leads to bleak and appallingly inappropriate thoughts, some of which, it turns out, have their roots in something diagnosable, as well as wildly funny ones.

And, wow, look at his physically, fearlessly wild when it needs to be – outrageously extravagant mimes of any number of sex acts come to mind (or rather can’t be erased from memory) – or perfectly controlled at others. He has similar control over all aspects of his mesmerising performance: noisy and aggressive one moment, silent and still the next. Brookes has an exceptional command of pace and tone, and keeps that as varied as his writing, ensuring there’s never a dull moment.

His intimate unpredictability carries a level of danger – not a terrifying Red Bastard-style risk, but just enough to heighten the reaction to his comic surprises. Meanwhile, audience interactions show he’s not wedded to a tight script; he’s nimble enough to blend often surreal ad-libs with the main thrust of a show that keeps its audience on their toes, even once it settles into a groove.

Compelling, mercurial, unconventional and smart, Brookes has produced one of the must-see shows of the Fringe. Click Here

August 12, 2017  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
Jordan Brooke’s Body of Work never really starts, not does it really end, and there’s definitely no middle. Brookes aims to provide a show under the pretence of wanting to tell a story about his gran, but he can’t sit down, let alone stay sat long enough, to tell it. Typical of his style Brookes has a sporadic delivery of his hysterically absurd ideas and physical impressions.

The audience has no choice but to erupt with inappropriate laughter as Brookes’ impressions kickstart. The show then reaches to the extreme, offering the audience a strange combination of satisfaction and slight discomfort as Brookes dares to take things one step too far.

This is a performer that, despite lacking empathy, knows no physical limits. Join him on the exploration of his body, accompanied by the hilarious impersonations of the appendages and orifices you would least choose to listen to. Brookes’s obscure manipulations of his face and body are gross, but impossibly captivating. The grotesque and shockingly inappropriate gestures physically depict his darkest and most unwanted thoughts with hilarious glee.

His Gran will be glad she never lived to see this tribute, but no one else should miss it. Click Here

August 12, 2017  Fest
Jordan Brookes' latest hour signals a minor evolution in Fringe comedy, beyond the sincere dead relative tribute but also the mockery of it. In terms of intent, his stated aim of acknowledging his late grandmother feels heartfelt. But he's also conveying it quasi-physically, with his lungs, arsehole and eyes rolled right back into his head for example, this expressive comic delivering a bizarre panegyric that's as much about exercising control over his body as exorcising the demons within it. Featuring the basest elements of familial, self and animal love, Body of Work is a magnetic display, with Brookes' limber, often grotesque performance too big for his intimate venue.

His proximity to the crowd remains a boon though, as it lets him truly force a connection onto them, even as he's mouthing obscene vocal warm-ups. The suggestion that any one of us could storm the stage reinforces a sense of risk, regrettably confirmed by a smattering of walkouts. Such self-indulgent strangeness won't be for everyone.

For the most part, Brookes is gamely playful, messing about with the conventions of mime, character and confessional comedy, seemingly with no great intent beyond seeing if he can get away with it. But his animated eyes and, indeed, complicit other body parts are windows into his troubled soul. As in previous years, he raises his mental health without browbeating you with it, his cartoonish delivery keeping it light even as he explores what can only be characterised as some extremely dark and truly fucked up shit. Click Here

August 12, 2017  The Scotsman
Jordan’s nan is dead. Which is probably just as well, given what he does to her at the end of this crazy, wonderful show. But there is a lot that happens before granny gets… Anyway, Jordan Brooks is a startlingly talented comedian. Some painfully funny clowning is hung on the thinnest of narrative lines along with talking body parts, bad thought marbles and the mathematics of guilt-free smoking. There is not a single moment in this comedy hour that is expectable and that is a real headrush. I cannot remember the last time I was so eager to find out what the next funny in a show was going to be, and for that funny to come at me in such ever-mutating form. This is the comedy of constant discombobulation and it is glorious. Fans of mime are in for a treat, as are fans of fellatio. His hour constantly spins, pin-sharp, from one reality to another, and I rather enjoyed patting Richard Gadd on the head murmering “shush horsey”, as the man on my other side did the same to me. This is a clever, naughty show that plays with its audience like a cat with a toy mouse. There is much comedy jeopardy when laughs come from dementia and bowel cancer. But I found this show as funny as Jordan’s shoulders did. And that is funny! Click Here

August 6, 2017  The List
Unsettling and unpredictable fare battles hard against the elements

Jordan Brookes falteringly takes to the stage and efficiently sets the tone: he's a rakish, belligerent performer blessed with an expressive face and macabre disposition.

After a hilariously inappropriate vocal warm-up, he launches into a painfully absurd explanation of the complex relationship he claims to have developed with his now-deceased gran. This allows Brookes to weave a grotesque narrative featuring deeply unsettling thoughts about his closest family members and his beloved dog.

Performing in a tiny side room within an extraordinarily rowdy venue, Brookes is seasoned enough to make significant capital from the noise bleed. He's also very capable of turning audience interaction to his favour while keeping everyone slightly on edge. Brookes is certainly wholly unafraid of drawing out silence for maximum effect, although viewers at the back (while safer from his occasional ire) may miss out on some of his more subtle physical gags.

A truly captivating comedian, Jordan Brookes is wonderfully unpredictable and gloriously menacing, but it's a shame that he doesn't have a stronger ending here. Mind you, it's perhaps in keeping with his chaotic persona that he can't more succinctly bring things to a close. Click Here

June 8, 2017 The Guardian
Edinburgh Festival 2017 Comedy Highlights
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