There have been quite a few recent shows using letters to frame a comedy narrative. In this respect, Danny Bhoy’s Dear Epson, which is currently touring following a run at the Fringe, is easily comparable to Tom Wrigglesworth’s Open Letters series on BBC Radio 4. Both comics read aloud their letters addressed to well-known companies or industries to explore and expose insane inconsistencies and inequalities.
In contrast to Wrigglesworth’s single-issue approach, though, Bhoy’s letters are presented as a series of vignettes that provide a loose framework for more general stand-up. Despite the show’s title, only a fraction of Dear Epson is actually directed at the eponymous supplier of dubiously-priced printer consumables. As Bhoy informs us, marketing people scour the internet ready to fire legally-threatening emails, so it’s probably best to repeat Bhoy’s point; that the cost of buying ink cartridges can be more expensive than the printer itself, but that is not a problem unique to this brand.
There are quite a few targets, and, while he is not exactly the first comedian to have a go at Easyjet’s often-incredulous procedures and admin fees, Bhoy hits the right notes every time. He doesn’t aim for the political intensity of someone like Mark Thomas, but Dear Epson has a subversive edge. There’s a heart-warming feeling knowing that a comedy show is ruffling corporate feathers.
Bhoy is a very likable, personable chap, sympathising with the crowd about the pitfalls of midweek comedy. He’s warm and relatively inoffensive, with the moments of invective fully justified. The tale about a failed romance is all the more accessible and alluring without drama or hyperbole, and like the gripes against the companies, its mundaneness is its strength.
I was worried how comments about Leith, a district of Edinburgh, would be received now that the show has flown the nest of the Fringe. Was it well-known enough to get a reaction in venues that weren’t a local bus journey away? Perhaps it was because of the atmosphere that he’s engineered, or the intelligence Bhoy assumes in his audience, that the laughs came anyway.
Dear Epson is an engaging little show. It may have fundamental similarities to other work, but the world is so mad and corporations are so greedy that we need people like Bhoy to poke sticks at the big companies and rattle their capitalist cages.
I suspect a larger audience beckons, and deservedly so; even if it is just to single-handedly bring back Roast Beef Monster Munch.
Dear Epson is currently touring around the UK – though some venues have incorrectly listed it under the title of Bhoy’s previous show, Wanderlust.