Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Offermation, Chris Ramsey tells us, is useless or unwanted information, shoved under your nose whether you like it or not. Modern life teems with the stuff, and this set by the South Shields comic ? shortlisted for an Edinburgh Comedy award ? rails against the trend. Or at least, it seems to.
A barnstorming finale upends Ramsey's hitherto conventional moan about Twitter, Christmas letters, etc, and confirms one's sense ? which accumulates throughout the show ? that this young comic has not only precocious technical skills, but something interesting to say.
Initially, he synthesises two of comedy's three famous Russells, Howard and Kane. He has the former's uncontroversial everyboy quality; and like the latter, he works his show's thesis to within an inch of its life. Much of Offermation is a masterclass in maximising the yield from so-so raw materials. In one instance, to make a routine work, Ramsey has to exaggerate hugely the embarrassment of dining alone in a restaurant. (A neat punchline, involving a Christmas cracker, helps.) Later, he tells a story about writing a letter of complaint to Sky, in which nothing happens. But Ramsey blows up the non-events with monster voices and howls of dismay, until you almost believe something funny has occurred.
The pedestrian subject matter ("video conferencing blows my mind") reaches a seeming apotheosis when Ramsey reads out a round-robin letter from family friends he has never met. It is, by his own admission, an easy target ? which he hits, then changes tack. The denouement turns what had been a joke into a suddenly joyous celebration of communication. Along the way, Ramsey reveals himself as a comic with the mainstream appeal of Russell Howard (in whose TV show he has starred), but with rougher edges. He'll go far ? and on this evidence, that's no bad thing.