Steve Bugeja’s craft, structure and compelling narrative make for an entertaining hour
Following a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Steve Bugeja brings his second solo show UNPRONOUNCEABLE to Salford’s The Lowry as part of a three-month long UK tour.
Best known for his guest appearances on Russell Howard’s STAND UP CENTRAL and CBBC’s DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK (CBBC), Steve Bugeja is an English stand-up comedian and writer. The young comic has grown from strength to strength after winning the 2013 BBC Radio New Comedy Award, contributing material for shows such as MOCK THE WEEK, 8 OUT OF 10 CATS and RUSSELL HOWARD’S GOOD NEWS, as well as his own sketch 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW AS AN ADULT for BBC3.
UNPRONOUNCEABLE is Bugeja’s second solo show, following the successful DAY RELEASE in 2015. While the title of the show takes its name from the comedian’s seemingly unpronounceable surname (which is actually pronounced ‘Boo-Jay-Ah’), the main topic of the show focuses on how people make decisions, particularly those made with the head or the heart.
Bugeja starts by sharing a story of a whirlwind romance he had with a girl back at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015. After falling head over heels, Bugeja is left with a difficult decision when his beloved sweetheart sets off to South America for eight months – should be follow her or should he call time on their relationship? The result is an hour long, albeit very funny, sketch on how the young comedian makes that decision, touching on his own experience and those of his parents and grandparents. Bugeja has clearly researched the topic as he ways up the pros and cons of our primal instincts and muses on how the brain, heart and gut all plays a part in our decision making process. Yet despite this, the material remains funny and light-hearted with the comedian’s awkward and geeky delivery adding to the charm.
Those who have seen Bugeja perform before will know that his geeky persona and self-deprecation is part of his act. The young comic is an out and proud nerd and his social inadequacies are a boon for humour. Yet while Bugeja’s neurotic delivery and physicality makes for great comic entertainment, the comedian does have a tendency to ramble at parts and the topic is stretched out for a little longer than necessary.
The act is also full of contradictions, the title being the first of many. For example, the comedian tells the audience that this is “not an interactive show”, yet a couple on the front row (who were on their fourth date) cop for most of the jokes, particularly when the guy admits that he’s due to move away to Las Vegas in less than two weeks! Similarly, the comedian confesses his performance is not about politics, yet throws some bold, controversial material about corruption levels of South American governments, ISIS, the EU referendum and immigration.
That said, for the most part, these sub-sections shake up the otherwise familiar self-deprecating British comedy and on the whole, the acts works well. You also can’t fault Bugeja for his craft and structure, his compelling narrative and plentiful jokes making for an entertaining hour.
On the whole, a polished performance for a young comic who is definitely on the up.
Steve Bugeja: UNPRONOUNCEABLE performed at The Lowry on 5 February 2017
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.