Phill Jupitus the poet? Worth a listen. But don't give up the day job, Phill
Did you know that Phill Jupitus – yes, the Phill Jupitus from Never Mind the Buzzcocks - is a performance poet? He’s also friends with Kate Tempest, and thinks her award-winning show Brand New Ancients is “the most beautiful thing to emerge from performance poetry in years”. Don’t believe me? Then check out his free fringe poetry show which is on every day this month at 5pm in the Jam House on Edinburgh’s Queen Street.
Over his hour-long show Zeitgeist Limbo show Jupitus, one of the UK’s most successful stand-ups, reveals a completely different, far gentler side to himself. He reads some of his own poetry under the guise of Porky the Poet, as well as poems by those who inspire him. On other days he also has guest poets on the show.
His set is like a stand-up routine, with poetry readings slotted in. A confident and comfortable performer who knows exactly what he’s doing, he easily has the audience in the palm of his hand. He is involved in two other, more high-profile comedy shows in Edinburgh this year, but explains at the beginning of the set that he felt he should do a free show as well. This instantly earns him a gold star. How many other BBC television celebs are on the free fringe? As he goes on to add, however, you get what you pay for and “It will quickly become apparent that I really don’t give a shit”. Fair enough Phill, we love you anyway.
The poetry itself is interesting, if not half as good as the stuff in between. Jupitus can make the audience laugh at the drop of a hat, but his poems can’t quite command the same reactions. Some are serious, so it would also be a bit weird if people laughed, but even the funny ones just aren’t as compelling. Although he displays a tongue in cheek attitude to his “dull poetry”, he doesn’t quite commit to his own parody either.
Some poems do stand out. You never buy me Flours is a great list poem with a killer punchline and Jeremy Carfucker is hilarious, if totally filthy. But the biggest laughs are from gags between poems.
Famous people generally have a very carefully constructed public persona, one which earns them their fame and popularity but has only a passing resemblance to their actual personality. As Porky the Poet Phill Jupitus reveals a different and more vulnerable side to himself. If I had to guess, I would say he’s using the free fringe to do something he wants to do but isn’t sure people would pay for. If you can’t afford to see Phill Jupitus in any other way this Fringe, get yourself down to the Jam House for some guaranteed belly laughs. Just don’t expect his poetry to blow you away.