Comedy review: Carey Marx
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Carey Marx: Intensive Carey at Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), reviewed by Jay Richardson
This is a brilliant, deeply personal performance – but it is worth issuing a disclaimer that if you’re squeamish about cracked ribcages, bodily functions and the chilling grasp of death, this may not be the show for you.
Unquestionably a testimony to Carey Marx’s oratory abilities, I spent several moments in his cramped, sweatbox of a venue feeling short of breath and on the verge of a heart attack myself. That’s not to make light of his horrific experience, which took place in May last year, because he does that so well himself. This is a survivor’s tale unquestionably, because Marx has returned from hell, or at least an under-resourced NHS hospital.
But he has retained the pitch-black humour that has invariably characterised his comedy, recalling that when he discovered the symptoms of an attack creeping over him in a hotel room, his first instinct was to ignore it and look at porn on his phone instead. When he is eventually diagnosed and operated on, it’s a harrowing ordeal, for the countless times he had to return to hospital for treatment, and for the strain it put on his marriage.
Granted a preview of his old-age infirmity, he takes a very funny diversion where he foresees his younger wife spectacularly cuckolding him, deriving a peculiarly twisted comic pleasure at the prospect. Throughout, he brings the saga vividly to life, evoking a waking nightmare among the disturbed and dying around him on the wards, while still exuding impish mischief, delighting in making you squirm, laughing at his misfortune and really making you feel the abiding strength of his love.
While it’s impossible to resist the emotional tug of Intensive Carey, that would only be part of the battle if he hadn’t come back as strong a comic as before. There is a moving account of him broke and temporarily abandoned by his wife, dragging himself to a gig too soon in his recovery and floundering on stage. But, touch wood, he now seems older, wiser, thankful, but still remarkably much like his former self. A brush with death really shouldn’t be this funny.
Originally published in The Scotsman