‘It’s so good to see so many of you here!’ beams Stokes to a small, half-empty room in the Pleasance Courtyard’s Attic. The sincerity in his voice is evident, and he goes on to qualify that only in Edinburgh Fringe can a performer confronted with such a minimal turnout say that with such enthusiasm. Soon enough though the tentative yet hilarious stories have begun and the little room shakes with laughter. From the volume a passer-by would never guess the body count in the theatre was so low.
With a set that flows freely between awkward anecdotes and discourse on the ethical farming of unicorn tears, this imaginative comic never misses a beat. The audience is given a tantalising glimpse into his nerdy world, full of cringe-worthy encounters and strange obsessions.
In response to a short bout of relatively friendly heckling, Stokes turns and asks if the culprit would refer to himself as a nerd or a bloke. After a worryingly long pause the answer comes. The man was a self-proclaimed nerd and at this point an obliging technician raised the houselights to give everyone a better look. Out of the dark a giant of a man appeared, wreathed in tattoos, his newly shaved head shinning under the theatre lights. I would not deign to dispute this man’s claim (mainly for fear of my internal organs), but it seemed the geeky show had moved him to assert his true nerdy heritage.
A debut performance that turned a tiny audience into a small nerdy army. Definitely time to enlist.
Chris Stokes: An Opera Written On Napkins, Pleasance Courtyard. 4 – 27th August , 5.45pm.