By his own admission, Edward Aczel is no pin-up. He does not possess the boyish good-looks or Everyman appeal of Russells Howard and Kane. He is unlikely to be in the running to be the next Dr. Who. He does, however, have a plan to get himself on television.
Continuing where he left off in last year's 'Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.', which focused on the careers he would have preferred to follow and was a left-field Fringe success, Aczel is this time eyeing up his first forays into broadcasting. Taking the post-reality TV boom notion that something hasn't really happened unless it has been seen on television, Aczel is pitching for his very existence. It is a shame that there are no TV people in tonight (ever resourceful, he checks this first) since he has gone to the trouble of preparing a whizzy Powerpoint presentation for them – he is right on-trend in this respect, if no other.
He also has some very clever ideas for new shows, the best of which would see him travelling back in time to resolve industrial disputes, like a Victorian-era ACAS. In keeping with his low-key, anti-comedy stylings, Aczel is always looking to mine niche markets, laying traps for himself at every opportunity and exploiting them for every off-kilter laugh available.
Aczel is a disarming performer. His delivery is minimalistic and faltering, his tone commonly on the verge of a whisper and his material defiantly obscure. He begins tonight's show with a series of facts that bear no consequence for what will follow and ends it in typically ramshackle anti-climax.
This is all part of his schtick, of course, but it is by no means clear how much of Aczel there is in his act. Certainly, he is by day the Cycle-to-Work Employee Benefits Manager that he claims to be. The quiet chaos and endless self-effacing is more than likely him too, but only he will know to what extent. It doesn't all work to his advantage, but the material is most successful when Aczel is confounding expectations, slipping jokes under the radar, as managers in the Employee Benefits game would likely call it during their more effusive moments.
It is hard not to root for a man who takes his entire annual leave allowance to bring such wilfully downbeat shows to the Fringe each year and he encourages that support with a series of lines delivered with nicely-judged understatement.
Edward Aczel will be back next year, his employer's good will and television commitments allowing. Make the time to see him.