Ivo Graham opens his show with an anecdote about riding in the cab - to use specific railway terminology - of a Chiltern Rail train. He mentions this not only as testament to his long love of railways (and being a connoisseur of the Thomas the Tank-Engine ‘literary’ series) but as a deliberate ploy to ingratiate his audience to him: ‘start with a brag, show ‘em who’s boss’.
Graham certainly is in full charge of his routine. Though the comic maintains some of his ex-public schoolboy awkwardness (he attended Eton, a place he describes as ‘repression inception’, where ‘anxiety’s on the curriculum’) Motion Sickness is a slick and well-structured show. This isn’t to say that Graham’s comedy is conspicuously methodical - this is not a show of contrived three-second laughs.
Motion Sickness moves with a natural flow which navigates between topics with a circuitous ease that is reminiscent of Eddie Izzard’s self-referential style; the ability to wind an eccentric anecdote back to an earlier, separate point while maintaining a cohesive narrative. Graham doesn’t reach quite as far on the journey, but his delivery is tight and avoids the potholes of ‘haven’t you noticed’ observational comedy.
Each anecdote is punctured with witty, divergent metaphors – recounting loosing his virginity as ‘reporting back from the Chelsea de-flowering show’ – which not only illustrate the sharpness of his humour, but make potentially dull subjects like purchasing socks or proposing (vomit was involved) funnier and more universally entertaining.
Although Graham quips about his privilege as an Eton-educated man, he constantly edges between endearing self-deprecation and studied arrogance, preventing either to predominate and become distracting. When discussing his recent mortgage, Graham ironically notes that he and his girlfriend are now ‘the only millennials who cannot afford to buy avocados because they spent too much money on property.’ He clearly understands his audience and his performed identity, and is able to play between the two with an astute ease.
The title of Motion Sickness might reasonably describe the vertiginous feeling of growing up, and the anxieties, decisions and responsibilities that accompany it. Illustrating the uneasy transition, Graham describes the possibility of entering parenthood while still a child (at heart) as ‘a Bugsy-Malone piece of immersive theatre’.
Motion Sickness was an hour of consistently, and genuinely funny, comedy – which included Ivo Graham’s secret to true happiness: three bags of Doritos (Cool, Cheese and Chilli) emptied into a single bowl, creating the ultimate ‘Do-three-tos’, and thus eliminating any decision anxiety.
Alleviate yourself of any decision anxiety, and just go see the show.
Ivo Graham: Motion Sickness is being performed 5th - 12th, 14th - 26th August, at 6.40pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Cabaret Bar)