Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Fred Strangebone Performs Comedy, Prague Fringe 2024 ★★★☆☆

Meet Fred Strangebone, he might be a bit tall, clammy, and give off a vaguely creepy aura, but he’s more scared of you than you are of him… Promise! Between some rather groan-inducing one-liners, this slightly off-putting and weird character is a real gem in this show.

He sums up his objectives for the show quite well at the start: you’re in for some comedy, a little bit of music and, time permitting, a suicide attempt.

We all understand irrational fear to some extent but Fred Strangebone’s character is so far on the end of that spectrum he might be outside of the visible range. He’s afraid of everything, from the more reasonable fears (teenagers, what a mood) to the more far-fetched (golf). This persona still rings true though, in a post-covid, post-internet world, this damp, borderline agoraphobic man, who lives in fear of his strange neighbours and the terrifying children who bully him on his street, rings true to the anxieties of modern life.

Fred Strangebone is easily startled, struggling with a severe fear of golf and his creepy neighbours. The physical comedy is brilliant and he’s responsive to his audience, quick to change tack if a segment isn’t going well. He maintains a hilariously awkward atmosphere with the audience through a mix of complete lack of eye contact (asking your typical “get to know the audience” questions while staring down the empty aisle of the Charles Bridge Comedy Club) and intense, silent stares.

Between the more narrative jokes, telling us about his life in London and the pranks children play on him, he also delivers a multitude of one-liner jokes that fit within the grim and somewhat creepy atmosphere of the show. He plays his accordion (as promised, the musical element) and delivers on the final promise set out at the beginning of the show of killing himself.

Though his delivery and physicality showed a mastery of this character’s voice, I found the structure of the show underdelivered on the premise of this character. Too much of the show was devoted to one-liners that, while often in keeping with the creepy/awkward vibe of the show, could easily be removed without the show losing much.

The strongest parts of the show for me were the parts with a more central thread, and I would love to see more connective tissue in the show to flesh out the character. Some of this missing tissue leads to pieces that can’t quite slot together, for instance, Fred mentions he will soon be going on holiday, pulling out an itinerary and everything, and I couldn’t help but feel confused as the very next thing he did was bring up his plan to kill himself on stage. Stand-up comedy can afford to be less logical and linear than theatre but I think it still helps to keep a somewhat consistent character.

Despite my criticisms of the writing, Fred Strangebone’s absurd character is hilarious and sympathetic at his core. He skilfully keeps the audience in just the right amount of awkwardness to be funny without going so far as to kill the energy in the room, an admirable balancing act.

Poignantly funny, delightfully awkward, and uniquely dark, Fred Strangebone’s show brilliantly captures the anxieties of modern life with a touch of surreal humour.

Recommended Drink: A Dark ‘n’ Stormy is the drink to accompany this show: a mix of dark rum and ginger beer, reflecting the grim yet refreshing humour Fred Strangebone brings to the stage. Enjoy this brooding cocktail as you navigate the wonderfully eerie world of Fred’s comedy.

Catch Fred Strangebone until May 29thTickets can be purchased through the Prague Fringe website.

Moss Meunier

Moss is a bit of a globetrotter and struggles to stay in one country for long. They first fell in love with fringe theatre in Prague in 2014 and first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018 as an improv comedian. They’re interested in a broad range of genres but are particularly excited by themes of neurodiversity and immigration. Their favourite drink is a foamy pint of Pilsner Urquell - it was their first beer and tastes of teenage freedom.

Festivals: EdFringe (2023), Prague Fringe (2024)
Pronouns: They/Them