"I just talk about the sh*t that scares me but make it funny, because it makes it less scary."
Whilst the above statement may seem obvious - and perhaps a little straightforward - it has served Steve Bennett well as a mantra for his Edinburgh Fringe show Everything is F*cked.
As the title suggests, Steve Bennett puts a humorous spin on a handful of the many, many reasons why our existence on this planet is currently less than great. Topics in the set range from personal (his family and upbringing, and how this influenced the person he is today) to political (Brexit rears its ugly head a number of times), with the first piece focusing entirely on biscuits.
Considering the setting (Edinburgh, Monday evening) and demographic (alcohol-fuelled festival-goers), Bennett manages a bustling crowd well, with every interplay between the comedian and an unsuspecting showgoer resulting in uncontrollable laughter in the humid venue. The occasional interspersed self-deprecating gag reminds the audience of Bennett's ability to laugh at himself as well as the world around him.
Bennett's set goes from strength to strength - upbeat ukulele songs laced with meta-jokes help maintain a jolly mood in the packed Back Room at Finnegan's Wake, with an intentionally unsubtle title drop in the main ditty mid-set causing widespread audience singing and interaction. Bennett's surprisingly tuneful singing shows his versatility as a comedian-musician, drawing parallels to circuit regulars such as Tim Minchin and David O'Doherty.
Bennett's conversational delivery style draws the audience in immediately; even the most niche of subjects feels relatable thanks to his disarming persona and jovial approach to performing. The routine is slick and well-rehearsed, with each song and anecdote flowing into the next before the audience can catch a breath. Not that they want to - Bennett's energy, passion and sharp wit fuels the show from the first joke to the last. This is undoubtedly one of the funniest shows that Free Fringe has seen in recent years.
The set does not wholly consist of jokes about Irish parenting and the inconsistencies of religion, however. The show concludes with a heartfelt speech about the importance of being honest with those around you, and how this ties back to the title - everything is f*cked, but acknowledging this with each other makes things just a little bit more bearable.
[At the time of writing, Steve Bennett's run at the Fringe has ended. Be sure to look for his performances at future events, though!]