FRINGE 2019: Why you need to see… Chris Washington
Who: Chris Washington
"Welcome to the comfort zone! What’s that noise? It's the sound of no ground being broken in the next hour..."
Before Chris Washington enders the stage, it is adorned with a snippet of a previous review. Writ large on a piece of card is a rather condescending quote suggesting that Washington could one day be a household name - if only he took some risks. As soon as the Wigan comic bounds on stage, he replaces it with a hashtag alongside three smiley emojis: #LeastRiskyComicInTheBiz. With that, the tone is set for an hour of great gags, good vibes and undiluted comedy.
There is no bitterness or consternation in Washington's stance. He explains that there are numerous great shows at the Fringe that focus heavily on deeper meaning and morality tales - but that's just not for him. His aim is neither to educate nor elicit tears, but rather to entertain. Raconteur is essentially an antidote to all the heavy stuff and a safe place to have a laugh. As Washington explains, he was a postman before entering comedy, and so relishes the simple joy of telling jokes for a living.
Whether bemoaning the fact that his favourite takeaway has received a zero hygiene rating (but admiring their work-around in displaying it), or surprising himself with a penchant for 'wed-min' (wedding admin), Washington is gregarious, charming company. He is an expert spinner of yarns and builds waves of laughter on top of each other. A particular anecdote about his first online troll, and how his mother went full Liam Neeson on their arse is a big winner as the audience revel in the relatability of an over-protective mum.
Washington is perhaps at his best when faced with fish-out-of-water scenarios. A segment on his experience of living in Australia for a month makes for rich pickings, as he raves about their 24-hour McDonald's breakfasts but is less enamoured with their slapdash approach to colour coding crisps. Another riff on his reluctance to risk go-karting with his pals is something of a tour de force, culminating in a call-back that is both hilarious and hugely satisfying.
The hour flies by as you forget the time, kick back, and just enjoy yourself. Of course there are those who will always contend that such 'uncomplicated' laughs are somehow less worthy of praise than more 'challenging' fare, but it all comes down to this: good is good and shit is shit. In fact, Washington should be applauded for being true to his talent and refusing to hide behind faux pathos or forced emotion. If you like your comedy funny, Washington's your man.
You can buy tickets for Raconteur here.