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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

Review < Back

Edinburgh festival 2014: Paxo - quickfire sarcasm, passion and a natural comic touch

Sunday 24th August 2014


Most performers at the fringe are bankrupting themselves to cram an audience into a small, sweaty room in the hope that some day it will lead to a TV career. Not so many make that journey in reverse, but Jeremy Paxman, who enters holding a "Golf Sale" sign, is looking for new opportunities since his departure from Newsnight earlier this year ("Jeremy is available for barmitzvahs and corporate events..." adds a voiceover from Roger Tilling, the voice of University Challenge).

In fact, this eight-day run was sold out well in advance, with extra shows added, and Paxman could certainly have filled a larger venue, but the intimacy of the Pleasance cabaret bar gives it a more human touch, allowing him to make eye contact with his audience as they are invited to ask questions and engage in debate. He is every bit as assured on stage as you would expect, with a natural comic touch; plenty of young comedians could learn from his quickfire responses to hecklers. One audience member tries to impress him by boasting that he was once a finalist on University Challenge in the 70s; Paxo turns on him with whatThe Thick of It memorably called "his horse-face of mockery" and drily remarks: "Sic transit gloria, eh." ...


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