‘So what’s this guy like, then?’ asked the Edinburgh woman of a certain age standing behind me in the queue for Olaf Falafel the other day.
‘Well, he’s a bit surreal,’ I replied.
‘What’s that, then?’
‘Erm… you know Vic and Bob?’ (blank) Or maybe – Monty Python.’ (still blank)
‘Ach well, I’ll give him a go.’
I can’t be too snooty as I’m an Edinburgh woman of a certain age myself but she was definitely a Fringe virgin. I was going to say I had seen Mr Falafel last year in Expect the Unexporcupine but thought I’d be wasting my time trying to pitch that one to her. I will however explain to you, dear reader. Expect the Unexporcupine was one of my unexpected top Fringe hits of last year. It featured Olaf along with Michael Stranney but not in a double act type of way. Instead it was a bit shambolic (I’m still not sure whether intentionally or not) and perplexed sections of the audience but if you stuck with it – it was comedy gold.
This year Olaf is all on his own and the act has tightened up considerably. There is a Powerpoint-type presentation all the way through. But before you start to groan – the material is blissfully wedded to the visuals and not just randomly tacked on to pad out the show. The reason the visuals are so good is because Olaf is a bit of a Vine video maestro who’s had over 75 million hits. But in typical deprecating style he compares this to sperm count and… I won’t spoil the punchline to this one of his (many) brilliant jokes.
There’s silliness aplenty but it’s never puerile thanks to Olaf’s lugubrious Nordic cool and bone-dry delivery. And he never gets flustered even when the video clips stall momentarily – such is his laid-back professionalism. Oh – and there would have been no point in trying to compare him to anyone else – the guy’s unique.
So did my Edinburgh sister last to the end and thank me for the recommendation? I don’t know – it was hard to pick her out in the sea of joyous faces packing out the City Cafe downstairs room. They’re all in on the secret now – do yourself a favour and make sure you are too.
(Review for 6 Aug)