By Colin Flaherty
Tim Fitzhigham trades in an anthropological form of humour, in this case a study of the weird and wonderful wagers made by English gentleman in years past. Not content to present a mere list of these endeavours and make jokes about them, Tim set out to replicate these efforts with as much accuracy as possible.
He throws himself into these challenges with a passion, enduring injuries and regularly putting his body on the line. It’s easy to assume that some facts have been stretched to tell an amusing story but you also get the impression that the truth is immensely more entertaining than any fiction. Almost everything is documented in detail and shown on a screen to the audience. These videos are available to view on his website; there are no spoilers online though, the results are reserved for the show.
A number of celebrity guests were employed in either background material or as active participants in the tasks. This added some weight to the challenge and painted Tim as the underdog. It conveyed an understated English quality which was necessary to maintain his status without getting too confident and spoiling the anticipation. The audience were engaged throughout the performance with regular polling as to whether or not Tim was successful in each task. This kind of group call and response was effective in uniting the crowd in their cheering on of Tim.
Tim milks humour out of every aspect of the challenges. From the strange antiquated background of the original bets to his experiences during the execution to the results and his thought processes, he has many hilarious lines to keep the audience laughing.
The obsessions that drive performers to present shows such as this is fascinating, adding almost as much pleasure to the scripted lines. The overall story comprised of a chronological sequence of bets together with some related side bets to tell a rollicking tale of adventure and endeavour. The consequences of each bet and the ramifications of the outcomes made for an intriguing case study into the mindset of gamblers, a somewhat dark undercurrent to the jovial celebration of achievement. That the show’s course is navigated via some manipulation emphasised the perils of gambling while simultaneously ensuring that the plot came full circle.
Much like the work of Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace, Tim gave us a hilarious and fun ride in which we were guided by a rather eccentric man. You don’t need to be a betting person to get immense enjoyment from this show but it’s worth taking a gamble on.
Gambler is on at Vic’s Bar at the Victoria Hotel