For his first ever hour long set, Phil Jerrod could be in worse places than his home town of Brighton, where an appreciative and supportive audience packs out the Komedia Studio Bar.
Having only been performing stand-up since 2012, Jerrod has risen exceptionally quickly to this point. With an incisive and descriptive style that packs maximum imagery and impact into each line, it is clear to see why. However, while ‘Neanderthal’ is brimming with such well crafted morsels, several times I found myself in the odd position of objectively thinking “that’s a really funny bit of writing” while not actually being moved to laughter. He doesn’t yet seem to have pinned down the performance style and persona that would deliver the killer comedy blow, but this is probably due to his relative lack of stage time.
The premise of the show is Jerrod’s disenchantment with the modern world, and even though “it was better in the good old days” has been done almost to death, he breathes fun new life into it – using it as a jumping off point to argue the case for good old fashioned murderers, for example. Facebook, hipsters and being middle class may be fairly well-worn thematic paths, but he finds a sidelong angle into each topic that keeps it original, and the best laughs came from the most universal subjects of all, like the drudgery of work and the rigmarole of Christmas rituals.
The most satisfying points were when Jerrod seemed genuinely angered, exasperated or dismayed by the object of his ire, as opposed to just having an amusing moan, and he would benefit from finding a way to make this emotional connection more often. ‘Neanderthal’ is closer in style to a monologue than a straight set of jokes, and as such it needs a slightly more considered and honed delivery to give his punchy, exuberant writing the platform it deserves.
Jerrod has much to celebrate, and even more to look forward to; a few more outings should see him growing into this set and colouring in the grey areas, at which point it will become a formidably entertaining thing.