There have been so many projector screens on show at this year's Fringe that it has sometimes felt like one extended middle management briefing. Chris Ramsey uses his to define the term 'offermation' as useless or unwanted information which has not been asked for – an act which is in itself offering usele . . . oh, you are ahead of me, I suspect.
This is the first in a series of neat tricks employed by Ramsey during a well-paced set focusing on family, coincidence and various forms of communication, useless or otherwise – a set which has seen him nominated for this year's Comedy Award.
If Ramsey is unfamiliar to you, do not be alarmed: this will not be the case for long. Charming, sparky in a non-threatening way and sporting regulation white plimsolls and grown-out Bieber-cut, Ramsey is indisputably on-trend and almost certainly on course for the kind of panel show/vox pop exposure that most Fringe comics can only dream of.
An accomplished stand up, Ramsey fashions a narrative from a sequence of Christmas letters written by a branch of his family he barely knew existed. With a singularity of purpose, he probes every mundanity and superfluous detail within the letters to win big laughs from such evidently flimsy source material. Neat trick number two.
A lot of Ramsey's stories don't really lead anywhere – he overhears a catty conversation in a shop, witnesses an instance of shoplifting in a Chorlton supermarket and makes a complaint to Sky – but the importance here is in the circumstance, rather than the conclusion. He also finds a relatively rich seam in audience-generated ad-libs, baiting audience members leaving to relieve themselves in a more inventive fashion than your average stand-up and happening upon who a woman who, rather helpfully for his purposes, works for Sky.
All of which is very enjoyable, if somewhat unremarkable. However, it is the rousing and self-affirming denouement which elevates Ramsey's show to something rather more special, the previous tone of mockery giving way to one of genuine affection and the projector screen finally being put to meaningful use.
This may not have been enough to win Ramsey the big prize in Edinburgh, but his boat will not be long in arriving.