‘Sidekick’, Ben Van der Velde, Wednesday 19 July, Purple Turtle
Review by Chloe Rogers
Star Rating | 3 Stars
‘Sidekick’ is an hour-long stand-up comedy routine from Ben Van der Velde, filled with anecdotes about his life as a ‘Jew with a lower case j’, his family, and politics, among others.
Ben’s routine had all the traits of a classic stand-up set, which made for a very entertaining hour. His observational humour was strongest, which was clear from the start. He opened the set by commenting on the venue – the cellar bar at the Purple Turtle, as the kind of place you’d go to if comedy was illegal.
This kind of improvised comedy was great. He struck a fun few minutes of banter with one audience member about what their differing approaches would be if we were to be attacked at that very moment – with Ben saying he would be useless in such a situation.
It was clear that he did not mind laughing at himself, with much of the set being about his Jewish religion and privilege. His stories were engaging, and although many were about his life it was still relatable and gave the audience a clear image of what he was describing.
This was a warm-up gig in preparation for his show at Edinburgh Fringe, so it wasn’t completely perfect, which is to be expected. However, there were some elements which didn’t worked as well.
Firstly, a lot of the set was focused on politics. Political humour is everywhere at the moment, you just have log onto Twitter to see a plethora of tweets about the British government or Donald Trump. It’s easy to make a joke about politics right now, and you see the same ones going around everywhere.
To make your political humour stand out, it needs to be unique and have an edge, and I personally didn’t think Ben’s did. There were a few times when he was close, for example he spoke about his belief that history was circular, which he said is a scary concept when you are Jewish.
Also, I found that his description of the show and what he actually performed didn’t match. The show’s write up read: ‘This is a show about the men and women who pick up the pieces whilst the main man is busy humping the heroine after the credits have rolled.’
However, this was barely touched on in the set. While his routine was funny and entertaining, I was expecting something slightly different. The sidekick topic was only really mentioned once when talking about his wife, saying she would be his ultimate sidekick, and then moving onto something else. I didn’t particularly mind this, as it was a good set, but I feel that maybe the show’s description could be changed to something that makes more sense to his routine.
Overall, I thought Ben’s stand up was good, and considering he was still perfecting the set, he pulled it off well.
Find Ben Van Der Velde at benvandervelde.com