It’s not often you are left stunned at the end of a Fringe show. Usually it’s all smiles and a warm feeling inside, sometimes even a post workout chest-type burn from laughing too hard. Edd Hedges is a different type of comedian with a different type of comedy. Don’t let his cheeky youthful face fool you – he’s got the knives out.
Wonderland is a comedy horror. Hedges can make us laugh in the more conventional way but often chooses to subvert this, pulling off the Band-Aid too soon mid laugh. A sort of “don’t worry, it’s just a scratch – I lied, it’s cancer” tragic bait and switch. As an audience we are forewarned. He tells us he is not an alpha male type comedian and the lightheartedness of the beginning of the show is a ruse to provide us with a false sense of security. With Wonderland, Hedges is here to tell his story, a simple story, about him returning to stay with his parents after a gig he performed at. Through this story, we divert and detour frequently to learn more about his childhood and relationship with his family – specifically his father. We learn of his father’s missing fingers, the difficulty of their relationship, and listen to the in-depth, almost raw, picking at childhood scars. I found this approach disarming and it resurfacing a few of my own memories of rough patches growing, while the whole thing seemed to leave many audience members unsure whether they were supposed to laugh.
It’s difficult to discuss Hedges’ show without either spoiling it or making it sound too bleak so you avoid it and I really don’t want for that to happen. He reminds me of a Mary Whitehouse Experience-era Rob Newman in that he can clown for laughs but in a moment can deliver a change of tone that wrong-foots us. In comedy, there is often a tendency to try and lighten dark subject matter with jokes and Hedges walks this line impressively. Near the end of Wonderland, amongst the tough material, you can see a finale punchline about windows coming a mile off which is fabulously delivered and then dismissed, leaving a sombre heavy tone. Personally, I enjoyed his subversion to these punchlines and left feeling like I had seen something special.
Edd Hedges’ Wonderland runs until 27th August at Gilded Balloon Teviot, 16:00.