Hilary Wardle

Edinburgh Fringe review: Jason Cook, Broken

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Jason Cook is a broken man. He doesn’t look broken – a bit tired, perhaps – but he repeatedly assures us that he is.

If you’ve seen his hit sitcom Hebburn, you’ll be familiar with his rascally appearance and down to Earth Geordie humour, but unlike his character – single dad Ramsay – he’s a lot sharper, quicker and wittier in person.

Speaking of Hebburn, it’s his experience writing and starring in the sitcom, set in his home town, that broke his mind in the first place. It turns out that only sleeping for three hours a night for an entire year has a bit of a detrimental effect on your mental health.

Nervous breakdowns aren’t a natural topic for a stand-up show, but Jason approaches his in a typically irreverent North East fashion. One of the highlights in his latest hour is a section where he pokes fun at various therapists he’s seen since losing the plot due to stress and overwork, though it isn’t just the trials and tribulations associated with writing a sitcom that caused him to flip.

Jason’s wife also gets plenty of stick too, as she’s a stay at home mum benefiting from his hard work and success. Unfortunately, this is the weakest part of an otherwise accomplished show.

It’s hard to avoid sounding like a 1970s comedian when you’re making jokes about the fact that you’re the breadwinner and have to hand over all your cash to your missus when you come home at the end of a long day, or that you now have to work every Tuesday night because she decided to upgrade the Sky package. It feels a bit behind the times, despite his affectionate tone.

Another part of the show that hits a discordant note is the section where he talks about taking a bath with his child, but this time it’s more the audience’s fault. The ripple of discomfort when a man in the second row said he still baths with his ten year old was palpable (Jason’s daughter is still a baby). Does anyone have Operation Yewtree on speed dial?

On the whole, though, Broken is an accomplished return to the Fringe for Cook, who once again mines his turbulent life for an hour of hearty, feel-good stand-up.


Date of live review: 1 August 2014 @ Pleasance Dome

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