Clowning has been getting a bad rap recently. The whole concept of ‘terror clowns’ and the demonization of the traditional clown aesthetic gives the modern clown an unjustified bad reputation. In actual fact, when clowning is done right, the associated fear couldn’t be further from the truth. Viggo Venn and his charming, bumbling, cucumber-centric act epitomise all that is entertaining about clowns. Deeply rooted in the absurd, The Life of Pepito is ridiculous, silly but hilarious fun for all the family.
“there is an endearing quality to Venn’s off-the-wall style”
The key to the genius of Viggo Venn’s ‘Pepito’ is the character’s constant and sharp response to the audience. Barely a skit goes by where the audience are not utilised, and Venn’s quick wit in response to audience reactions keeps the character fresh and present rather than going through the motions of a pre-determined act. Although the show does not advertise itself as comedic improvisation, it does genuinely feel like every show must be fresh, within the established structure, of course. Venn has an inviting, calming manner, drawing wit out of the audience with unparalleled finesse. In a Fringe-first, audience members were genuinely keen to get involved, rather than sitting in the usual stagnant silence that audience participation often causes.
Within such a chaotic, audience-reliant structure, there is some well-considered writing in pre-prepared sequences. It is intensely and unashamedly zany, but there is an endearing quality to Venn’s off-the-wall style, creating an unpredictable but enjoyably subversive atmosphere. From cucumber sword fights to a mission to space with a snowman, it’s fair to say The Life of Pepito finds wit in the weirdest of scenarios. If there were any criticism to make, it would be that at times Venn oversteps the mark, straying slightly too far into absurdist territory in a few skits. Although, in the grand scheme of a series of superbly entertaining sketches, it is neither here nor there that some do not quite hit the mark.
The Life of Pepito is a brilliant showcase of Venn’s talents as a performer, astutely and wittily creating a fresh and hilarious performance revolving around the present audience. Pulling off a zany selection of skits with charisma and spot-on comic timing, this is a laugh-a-minute production successfully demonstrating why clowns have always been such a popular medium for comedy.
Underbelly – Cowgate, 3rd – 27th August (not 16th) 17:20