Adam Hess: Salmon

Fri 7th – Mon 31st August 2015


Fergus Morgan

at 17:34 on 17th Aug 2015



Adam Hess is the comedy equivalent of a hyperactive child in a sweetshop. Frantically dashing from one topic to another, constantly disappearing down the rabbit-holes of his childhood memories, and regularly being distracted from his material. He is like a moth around a lightbulb, breathlessly flitting and fluttering from one routine to another. This erraticism masks a comic truly in command of his own material.

Hess is consistently funny, and on the rare occasion any of his material falls flat, the pace at which his set hurtles on ensures that any discomfort is rapidly dispersed. His agitated delivery – a spluttering, slurring whirlwind of gabble – is undeniably reminiscent of Mark Watson, as is his willing self-effacement.

Most of Hess’ material is personal. He focusses heavily on his childhood experiences – one anecdote involving an ill-fate family trip to a Spanish waterpark is particularly memorable – but this is eternally relatable. The bizarre Hess traditions he tells the audience about, although extremely unique, are still recognisable as the charming idiosyncrasies every family shares.

That which is not personal is observational. Hess, like many comics, undoubtedly has an unerring eye for the funny in everyday life. His material on train carriage etiquette draws loud laughs, as do seemingly random interjections on a host of topics. “I just can’t imagine the Queen with wet hair! I just can’t do it!” he exclaims out of the blue.

There are few moments of audience interaction, but when they occur, Hess handles them with confidence and friendliness. At one point, he even drags an audience member on stage to read out some of his own jokes of a piece of paper, whilst wearing a mask of his face, claiming that he “needs a break”. This situation is both hilarious and surreal, as the unfortunate audience member awkwardly recites a series of Hess’ one-liners, with Hess himself dancing extravagantly behind him.

Hess’ set passes in a joyous blur of laughter. His endearing self-effacement, erratic style of delivery, and obvious control of his own material are a pleasure to watch. A scheduled appearance on Mock The Week was apparently cancelled at the last minute recently, about which Hess makes several bitter and amusing remarks, but he shouldn’t take this disappointment too hard, as he clearly has a bright comedy future ahead of him.


Stephanie Young

at 17:39 on 17th Aug 2015



I have no idea why Adam Hess’ stand-up show is called ‘Salmon’. But its apparent un-relatedness is a good indicator of the tone of the show. The premise is that Hess ‘tries to make you laugh a lot and like him loads’, two things which were certainly fulfilled in my case.

Hess’ frenetic delivery of his material is initially a little confounding, but the audience soon warm to his infectious, child-like energy. He manages to charm us with self-deprecating stories about his failures with girls, drunken antics, and his family’s dismay at his career choice by laughing at himself the whole time. Although, I think his break-up with girlfriend Lucy – or rather ‘Lucifer’ – is still a sore subject.

Hess is very open about how weird he was as a child, divulging stores of the dramatic nosebleeds he had every time he would get remotely excited. He also makes some offbeat and profound observations about strange things we all do, like ‘train etiquette’, which is for some reason void of all normal social graces. Hess’ list of things he just can’t get his head around, such as the Queen washing her hair, is equally zany and is updated on an almost daily-basis on his twitter feed.

As well as his unrelenting speedy delivery, Hess’ performance is quite physically expressive, particularly the amusing impression of the ‘creepy puppets from The Sound of Music’. His limbs take on a power of their own as he approaches a really funny part of his story; I only hope that the excitement of the show doesn’t start up those pesky nosebleeds again.

How Hess moves from one anecdote to the next is beyond me: he appears to embark spontaneously on hilarious tangents. He shuns stand-up tradition by choosing to veer away from an overarching theme or joke which is cleverly revived at the end of the set. Instead, Hess concludes quite matter-of-factly: we came, and we laughed.

Things happen for no apparent reason in this show, which might be frustrating for some. Personally, I think Adam Hess’ Salmon is refreshingly quirky and original comedy.


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