If you have not yet heard about Elis James, fear not – you soon will. Not to be confused with a One Direction groupie nor the bestselling author of erotic fiction for women, James is quietly and unmistakably on the rise.
One half of the absurdly Welsh character comedy The Committee Meeting, Speaking As A Mother sees him return to the day job (evening job, whatever) and finds him in impish, energetic form. A noted weaver of tales that invariably end in some form of discomfort for their narrator, James also has a nice line in mischievous asides: 'I wish I could do observational comedy,' begins one story, 'I'd like to buy a house.'
His easy, undulating style is ideal for set ups like this and he takes full advantage of the cadences of his accent – when he is using it, that is. Displaying a good ear for regional twangs, he slips comfortably into Glaswegian, Mancunian and Essex accents during his set, adding colour and authenticity to already entertaining material.
James devotes a significant portion of the hour airing concerns regarding his inability to develop into adulthood. On this evidence, he needn't worry. Speaking As A Mother is a more mature, more rounded set than his show at last year's Fringe and makes far better use of call-backs. He even ends on a song, like those proper, grown up comedians used to, when such a thing existed.
James is having what looks like a career-making festival and possesses the versatility and likeability to make the transition from jobbing stand-up to . . . well, to whatever he pleases, actually. See him live now or see him on the television later. The choice is yours.
Rating: **** (Four stars out of five)
Image by John-Paul Stephenson via Wikimedia Commons