I’m a book lover. It’s something that I share with a lot of people, including George Dimarelos, host of A Booklover’s Comedy Show.
It opened with a somewhat nervous Dimarelos introducing this admirable idea: a space for bibliophiles to share their passion without being laughed at (but very much laughed with).
It’s clearly not a gimmick: Dimarelos genuinely loves books. He sincerely listened to the audience’s book recommendations without seeming preoccupied with cracking wise about their choices.
But, while he did create an inclusive atmosphere, the jokes (and energy) felt a little lacking at the outset.
The show introduces a rotating line-up of three comics each night. Opening tonight, with some commendably cringey puns and grammatical gags, was Louisa Fitzhardinge.
Some of her set pandered a little to the stereotypically ‘nerdy’ image of book lovers, counteracting Dimarelos’ inclusive ideology, but she more than won the crowd over with her surprising musical numbers.
Gillian English was next, tackling the problematic portrayals of teen girls by storytelling powerhouses Shakespeare and Disney.
She kept the show moving with impressive energy while achieving the art student dream of actually utilising your degree during a legitimate Shakespearean recital.
Finally, the disarmingly British Pamela DeMenthe, closed out the show with some quality low-quality erotica adapted from her show, Sticky Fingers.
All three comics have literary-tinged shows at Fringe and their sets left me keen to see more, although it did feel like no one had necessarily brought their A-game as the night started to drag towards the end.
But this does call into question Dimarelos’ earlier implication that book lovers are often made to feel embarrassed about their interests.
It certainly didn’t feel that way on the night: the crowd were on board. Instead, it felt like Dimarelos was the one feeling abashed.
Early on, Dimarelos made a point about how there is vulnerability in exposing your favourite books, much like in doing comedy.
Hopefully he can find a way to combine his two passions more confidently moving forward, because comedy for book lovers is something I’d love to see more of.