4/5 Stars

★★★★ A Class Act by Jacob Hawley

Emily Pritchard reviews Jacob Hawley's Howl at the Edinburgh Fringe

At the Edinburgh Fringe, which can often seem a middle class bubble, Jacob Hawley’s exploration of the complexities of being working class is a much-needed addition to the comedy line up. He finds humour here without “punching down” in any way, and comes across as a man who really cares about people in society hit harder by austerity than him. He examined the tampon tax and the refugee crisis, and although his refrain about society coming together in collective action was repeated a little too often, it was definitely genuine.

Hawley’s comparison of how different generations interact with class was very funny: his parents’ desire to get a cleaner to fit in after moving to a middle class area, despite his mum being a cleaner herself, was contrasted with a self-aware description of his white guilt about having a cleaner. The show features Hawley’s imagining of a monologue by St George’s horse, which was both hilarious and very thoughtful in its examination of this legend. The audience was cleverly led to ask themselves whether Britain is still creating monsters, just so it can strike them down.

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Hawley himself is charming and sincere. He speaks openly about his recreational drug use – whether or not you approve, it is refreshing to hear a straightforward discussion of taking drugs, as something that certainly happens but is rarely talked about. His use of different voices is also brilliant: the impression of his father’s friend at a St George’s day street party simply growling “Troops!” is unforgettable.

Whilst the show didn’t make me howl with laughter, there were several jokes that made me snort embarrassingly loudly, and well told stories that reveal his love for his family, coupled with his frustration at the increasingly right-wing atmosphere in this country. He jokes about making monthly donations to a charity: “if you don’t tell everyone about it, is it worth the money?” But his show is not simply virtue-signalling rhetoric, but rather an important contribution to a discussion we all need to be engaging with.

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