US comic Sid Singh returns to Edinburgh with his debut hour American Bot. There’s a wealth of shows focusing on Donald Trump at the Fringe this year (and won’t he just love that!) but Sid is offering a fresh, intelligent and playful take on US politics in which Trump is barely a footnote. For Sid there are much bigger villains at play.
Sid Singh grew up in Silicon Valley and has seen the area evolve into a ‘playground for the rich’, watching as the area’s liberal values have fallen away since he left at 18 to go to college. He’s since lived in New York and now, ten years on, he’s ready to tear a strip off Silicon Valley’s tech culture but not ‘hate on the tech itself’. Sid’s a charming performer with a cheeky and somewhat incredulous style of delivery. It sounds as if he’s questioning everything he says, but that could just be due to the rising inflection hardwired into his lilting US accent. Sid’s relaxed in front of the crowd as he discusses world problems he sees storing up for the future, and the reasons we should ridicule the SV billionaires. Sid acknowledges that Trump is appalling but that he won’t be in power forever and warns that the real ‘bad guys’ to keep an eye on and rise up against are the SV billionaires.
About fifteen minutes into his set, perhaps reading some perplexed facial expressions in the crowd, Sid explained for anyone who wasn’t aware that Silicon Valley is San Francisco. That was the niggling problem with Sid’s set; his jokes are mostly lost in translation on a typical Edinburgh Festival Fringe audience at 6.25pm. They just don’t land the laughs they deserve. It didn’t help that the room was far from filled with punters, with a high ceiling and considerable distance between the audience and the stage, Sid was fighting an uphill battle to win big laughs. The show would have benefited from perhaps a slightly later time slot in a more intimate space. It’s a pity as Sid’s presenting a well-structured hour in which he lays into self-absorbed liberals blind to what’s happening around them, the hypocrisy of Valley ‘philanthropists’, he takes several shots at the NRA (National Rifle Association), sexists, rapists and racists. It sounds heavy material, and it’s certainly a not a gig to relax and switch off your brain at, but Sid keeps it sounding light and humorous. Even when sharing a personal story of blatant racism that he fell victim to recently yet was left powerless when the police turned a blind eye. Welcome to modern America. Got to laugh or you’d cry. This show will make you think, laugh, and think some more.
Title: Sid Singh: American Bot. Venue: Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Cask House) Dates: 2 – 26 August (not 13) Time: 6.25pm Duration: 1 Hour Entry: £5 to reserve in advance, or Pay What You Want Web: www.sidsingh.org