16 August 2011

Henry Paker - Cabin Fever

Henry Paker: Cabin Fever - As Henry Paker finds his comic voice there is an elephant in the room that needs addressing. Watching him, you may notice his stance of occasionally leaning backwards with one leg well in front of him, or the way he glides across the small stage, how he draws us into his surreal imagination and even delivers a few gags in French. Fortunately there is a seriousness to Paker that separates his style from that of the iconic Eddie Izzard. But that doesn't mean Paker isn't slightly mad.


In a small tin hut, Paker has aptly themed his show around Cabin Fever, stuck up Kilimanjaro for three months waiting to be rescued. Before we venture up the mountain, Paker opens strongly by sharing his bizarre issues with certain keys on the keyboard. A strange choice to start with, but smartly put-together and physically well acted.

Paker is an appealing and instantly likeable performer, such that his crowd may have felt overly comfortable with him and happily joined in (not really heckling). He managed to deal with these situations very well, in his own words ‘he created an effortless ease with the audience by telling them what to do’. Later he cut someone off in an endearing way by describing how he is going to cannibalise them, yet it manages to come across kindly as it gives him back control. Once or twice Paker seems to get lost in a conversation with himself, but these are the occupational hazards of his chosen style.

On his main theme, Paker creates an engaging and interesting show, with an intensity that meshes well with his slight surrealism. Some of the other ideas he uses have been covered before, such as The Game's trick of paying compliments that are slightly insulting (‘I love one of your eyes’). Paker brings a suave and creative twist to the material, much like his big finale which is well crafted and enjoyable, however fans of Red Dwarf will quickly see where the idea is going and it may lose some of its punch.

Despite familiarities with parts of his set, Paker comes across as creative act. In addition to his unusual imagination he's able to have fun with linguistics, which works well with the audience he has attracted. There is a sensibleness to his madness and coupled with a very enjoyable delivery it's clear that Paker has qualities that can take him far.


7/10 for an entertaining hour but with slightly familiar material - although the Eddie Izzard-esque style is not a negative!