By Chenoah Eljan
Alex Lowes has always wanted to be the most famous person in the world and so he made a show about it. This is Lowes’s first Fringe festival show, which is surprising given his comfort on stage and the ease with which he rolls with technical difficulties, ad libs, and banters with the audience and his sound technician and presumed good mate, Caleb. He is endearing and the audience wants him to succeed (not least of all his parents sitting in the second row and laughing uproariously to every joke). It is all very sweet and charming, and it is a shame Lowes chose not to lean into that a bit more. Instead, he goes for a vacuous fame-hungry, money-focused shtick. It is clearly an attempt to draw together a common thread amongst otherwise unrelated comedy songs but Lowes overlooks that he himself is the common thread and a more pared-back, vulnerable and self-effacing performance would have been far stronger. There is a maturity in vulnerability that Lowes has not quite reached. His songs focus on superficial humour and quirkiness rather than tap into the raw relatable truth that makes audience cry from laughter. But he can write songs, the music is more mature than the set and he is capable in several different genres which helps to pace the show and provides enticing variety.
Lowes’s best song tells of a gritty “realistic dating story” from his own life. It feels more honest and more vulnerable than anything else Lowes performs, but it is also far more clever. Without substance but an earworm nonetheless, the audience loves Lowes’s song “Technical Difficulties” and the entire front row bops along when this is reprised later in the show in response to actual technical difficulties.
Lowes central theme is a desire to be famous and yet the audience is never let in on why Lowes wants to be famous or what fame would offer him. The only allure Lowes alludes to is laziness as exemplified by the passive income to be earned from selling autographs. Towards the end of the show Lowes does confess that he wants to be famous because he wants to be valued by society. But there is no truth in this, it is simply a tie-in for the next song about his value in the zombie apocalypse being “75 kgs of human meat.” It was perhaps a funny thought bubble, but it’s not a complete song and jokes like this don’t land because they are not well-considered (for starters, if Lowes is 75kgs not all of that is meat) or fully developed.
Lowes is not quite there yet, but he shows a lot of potential both musically and as a performer. He needs to grow up a bit and look deeper into both himself and out into the world. He is evidentially very clever and now that he has taken the risk of a first festival show, it is time to risk some genuine exposure and tap into some truth and vulnerability. If Lowes really does want to be famous, that is how he will get there.