Accident Avoidance Training for Cutlery Users – Edinburgh Fringe

This afternoon I received a serious investment in my wellbeing. This was provided by Ian Crawford, an adviser from the Steel and Cutlery Manufacturers Association. His talk on the horrific injuries caused by cutlery was shocking. It also happens that it was an extremely hilarious experience, which doesn’t say much for my compassion.

Ian Crawford has the charm of a Utopian Englishman. He has a yellow ponytail the length of a debit card. He wears a proper work shirt and trousers. He takes his time to put his things down and carefully place his box of cutlery under the chair at the other side of the room, because things must be done properly. This is all very comforting and places an expectation on the audience, waking them up. He is a very charismatic and appropriate presence.

His slideshow’s computer graphics are from the 90s. The words on it are in Comic Sans and Ariel. This made me feel like I was back in a schoolroom learning. This is lovely, because it can be good to find yourself in a situation you didn’t even know you were nostalgic about. However, that is not a reason to relax. Horrible, graphic images of fork and teaspoon-related injuries flash onto the screen. Apparently ‘one gentleman had to be taken out on a stretcher’ after seeing one exceptionally overblown one. I felt like there was liquid laughter sloshing through my body seeing these. I think it was the conflict between the unexpected charm and the extreme bloodbaths that tickled the funny bone.

There are cutlery acronyms and rhymes to ensure we remember the material delivered, which is about how to avoid cutlery-related accidents. ‘Don’t be a clown, turn the fork down.’ All of this helps to flesh out the believable whole of Ian Crawford. He does not come across as a caricature. He made me want to hear a lot more from him, and see his habits, and daily life, and the way he sees other things in the world. I think the fact that I wanted to see more of a character or person beyond them making me laugh sets Ian Crawford apart from other stand-ups and comedians. And when he delivers his monologue ‘I saw cutlery lorries on fire on the shoulder of the M6’, I realized that this is a character one could get emotionally attached to quickly.

The reason why I am giving Crawford 4 instead of 5 stars is because he slipped into a presence of a ‘funny-man’ towards the end, and lost his unique characterization. The cutlery exam at the end was conducted in an almost rushed manner, as though it could be part-dismissed as a silly joke. Crawford also swears in a joke at the end-which could work, but he loses his own persona almost completely while saying it. The slides on cutlery in Shakespeare are unconvincing because it seems like he is not confident in his own material. I was sad that Crawford no longer seemed real and wanted him back.

However, this is a show to truly fall in love with and laugh a lot while doing so. Ian Crawford needs to believe a bit more in the inherent power of his character, because it is immense.

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James Sullivan

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