FRINGE REVIEW: The Devil on the Wall or, That Time I Got Kidnapped

There’s a fine line between solo performance pieces and standup comedy – and it’s not well defined.  It’s especially difficult to navigate for comedians, I think.  Jamie Campbell uses a microphone to tell his multi-layered story and so it feels like standup.  He tells “dick jokes” like a true club comic would.  But the difference in his show THE DEVIL ON THE WALL OR, THAT TIME I GOT KIDNAPPED is that smack dab in the middle of the hilarity are heart-wrenching details that the vulnerable comedian tells with such sincerity and rawness that one can’t help but be moved.

It’s not jarring the way Campbell does it, either.  And he’s very self-aware that telling his story is therapeutic. He thanks the audience for not making him carry this heavy burden alone anymore.  As a professional counselor, I appreciate his frankness.  His open-ness is refreshing.  But part of me wonders if I should be sending him a bill for services rendered.

If it wasn’t so gosh-darn entertaining, I might.

Campbell is not far from my age so his references of WWF and GI Joe and Heavy Metal all resonate with me.  The way he talked about his anger, rage, fear, and puberty all connect, too.  Throughout the story we are rooting for him. It helps to know that he’s OK today – after all, he’s standing up there telling us this story . . . so he must be OK, right?

Whatever. This show is definitely more than OK and the journey, while tough to hear, was definitely harder to live through.  If Jamie Campbell needs an hour of our time to process his experience to help him on his journey, he can have it.

And thankfully, it’s an entertaining hour.

THE DEVIL ON THE WALL OR, THAT TIME I GOT KIDNAPPED runs throughout the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  For more information about this show, click here.  For more information about the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, click here.