Reviews

★★★★★ ThreeWeeks
“Laugh-out-loud jokes aplenty”
★★★★ Chortle
“A Victoria Wood for the Spotify generation”
★★★★ Broadway Baby
“great comedy underscored by real musical talent”
★★★★ British Comedy Guide
“Clearly a talented chap... his future looks very promising indeed.”
★★★★ LoveFringe
“The lyrics are clever and funny in equal measure”
★★★★ The New Current
“Incredibly warm and friendly... he had a great rapport with the audience”
Broadway Baby (Aug 2012)
★★★★
Simultaneously endearing and unsettling, Jay Foreman is an extremely talented comic songwriter who is becoming progressively better. He certainly has some impressive tricks up his sleeve; interrupted by a latecomer, Foreman ‘recapped’ the gig by playing his last song again in under ten seconds. He didn’t skip a word. It was a moment typical of his set – great comedy underscored by real musical talent. Foreman has a surprisingly beautiful voice, with an impressive range and a knack for delicate delivery. He also knows how to milk this for laughs, as in The Sooty Song, where his incongruously tuneful screams of fear had the audience in stitches. The tunes are great as well and show a degree of musical experimentation far beyond the typical ‘four chords and a knob-gag’ structure.
In fact, some of his songs are barely comedy songs. Foreman’s humour takes an unusual line, aiming for melancholy or childlike whimsy rather than out-and-out belly-laughs. Though this approach works as it is, it would be more effective if he had the confidence to leave it unexplained and unqualified. After one rather Spike Milligan-ish ditty about his favourite balloon, Foreman felt the need to grin sheepishly at the audience and apologise, ‘I was so stoned when I wrote that.’ It got a laugh, but undermined the aura of oddness which was just starting to gather around the room. The best moments of Mixtape are those where Foreman strays furthest into the realm of the weird, as he does in his bafflingly plotless mid-set performance poem, or in ‘Skin Sofa’, an Ebay sales ad for a sofa made of living, sweating human flesh. A disgusting idea, but a highly original, well realised and wickedly funny one.
His more conventional comedy songs – though still very entertaining – are generally his weakest. Opener ‘What Else Has Dick Van Dyke Been?’ gets away with simplicity through some well-judged mild audience interaction, but Youtube-hit ‘Stealing Food’ came across as disappointingly ordinary when heard alongside the rest of the Mixtape. I look forward to seeing Foreman again when he’s perfected his act and has a little more faith in the originality of his material. In short, bring on the weird.
The Comedy Scoop (Aug 2012)
Jay Foreman began his set with an unusual and hilarious song about wanting something to go wrong during the Royal Wedding and immediately had the crowd in stitches. Upon completion of the song he noticed some late-comers to the gig and rather than have them miss out on the initial hilarity he rewound and then fast forwarded through the song for them again. This impressive and highly entertaining move set the crowd up well for the fun that was to ensue. With songs covering topics such as unusual phobias, student accommodation and being single Jay had the audience enraptured and laughing heartily throughout his performance. A skilled musician and charismatic performer Jay even included some hilarious musical one-liners in his show which is something I’ve yet to see another musical comedian do. Definitely one act I’ll be watching out for in future.
Ramp.ie (June 2012)
Support acts are usually bollocks. Audiences, having paid to see a particular act, are already suitably warmed up and usually spend this time politely clapping and repeatedly checking their watches. However, the support for the evening, up and coming musical comedian, Jay Foreman was an absolute delight.
When onstage, he cuts a nervous looking figure but he delivers his material with the confidence and timing of a well-seasoned professional. Whilst most of his act consists of songs ranging from subjects as diverse the Royal Wedding, crippling fears of hand puppets, the benefits of John Lennon having been shot and the hypothetical situation of trying to sell a sofa made entirely of human skin, he bookmarks each tune with audience interaction and little 10 second mini-tunes; “David Mitchell, David Mitchell / You’ll replace Stephen Fry when he dies”. As an accomplished guitarist, his songs are as pretty as they are amusing, which accounts for the fuckload of people queuing in the interval to buy his CD (which he happily signed for everyone, clearly overwhelmed by the support). If you see him on a line up, make sure you check him out. He deserves to do very well.
GiggleBeats (Oct 2011)
It is this cuddly persona, coupled with Gorman’s regular appearances on television, radio, and other family-friendly environments, that prompts a childish sense of joy whenever he swears -which he does within seconds at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, introducing his support act as ‘fucking hilarious’.
It’s a bold claim, which Jay Foreman does his best to live up to in his 30 minute set. Striding onstage armed with a guitar, Foreman breaks the ice with a pleasingly cynical song about the royal wedding. During the following patter, he brings a group a latecomers up to speed with a lightspeed rendition of the song, to great audience response. Jay Foreman is terrifically erudite, defying grammatical rules for maximum comic effect, and utilising musical jokes as skilfully a lyrical ones. He is so well spoken that not a single word gets lost and, unusually for a musical comic, he’s also a fantastic guitarist. From every angle, Foreman is faultless.
It is difficult to discuss specific songs or their titles without providing spoilers, but his endearing sense of humour is akin to a musical Jon Richardson; a dour Gavin Osborn; or an accessible Stephen Lynch.
British Comedy Guide (Aug 2011)
"You like the Beatles? Who's your favourite Beatle then?" asks a sceptical Jay Foreman, of a confident pre-teen lad in the front row. There's a lengthy pause, then he only goes and gets the biggest laugh of the show. "Er... Elton John!"
Not that there aren't others in Foreman's fine, well thought-out hour. The tall, thin bearded chap with an acoustic guitar and a slightly beatific stare may look like he should be sitting cross-legged around a campfire but it becomes clear early on that he's going to spice up his otherwise gentle strumming with a splendid array of obscenities and gross-out flights of fancy, despite the whole family in the front two rows who've flagrantly ignored the '14+' guideline in the programme. And boy, do those kids dig the swears.
We're Living in the Future is actually a look backwards, at the various TV shows and movies that predicted all manner of dramatic events for this decade: Lisa Simpson was supposed to get married in August 2010, for example, surrounded by robots, and according to Back to the Future 2 we only have four years to develop and popularise the Hoverboard.
Instead we have iPhones, text-speak and Angry Birds, all of which Foreman fulminates over via a clutch of catchy, folksy, often uproariously funny tunes. The chat-song format can be tiresome in less capable hands but he keeps things fresh with some novel audience-involvement devices, tiny musical nuggets about British national treasures dying and at least one song that takes us in a whole different direction.
Clearly a talented chap, Jay Foreman's future looks very promising indeed.
Spoonfed (Aug 2010)
Jay Foreman is [Max and Iván's] perfect compliment, equal parts po-faced comedian and finger-licking folk singer-songwriter, and clearly able to succeed in either role. The show itself is a detailed composition drawing from both areas. Some songs barely contain any humour, save for an ungraspably whimsical and unexpected sense of ennui, while others are soaked with laughter (like his impromptu play performed with a kidnapped audience member) or just bafflingly busy and densely packed with fiddly arpeggios and clever wordsmithery (If I ever get “Stealing Food” out of my head it'll be too soon.)
He paints a sparse, snowy landscape that from a distance is meditative in its emptiness. But look closely and there are happy little gremlins poking out from the bushes and cackling gleefully at the dissonance. An inspiring musician and an honest soul, the perfect fellow to have round a camp fire on a frosty night. Every home should have one.
Intuitively, you'd expect the two acts to be swapped over in the running order, but this works out wonderfully. Max and Ivan are like a face full of happy pills and a go on a bouncy castle. Jay Foreman is like a couple of valium and a cool highball to smooth the night over and send you to bed with sweet but disturbing dreams. Not that I would recommend such things (perish the thought).
Steve Bennett, Chortle (Aug 2010)
★★★★
There’s a lot to like in guitarist Jay Foreman’s assured debut, a laid-back and friendly presentation of witty, slightly eccentric tracks, enlivened with a warm, varied delivery. His compositions are broken up with not just the usual preambles, but unusual bits of business such as performing a two-hander play with an audience volunteer, reciting verses written when stoned and – in a wonderful and presumably difficult party piece – singing a couple of well-known songs with the lyrics one syllable behind the tune.
These, however, are just the baubles that adorn the main attraction. The songs – or more likely half-songs, as he’s never one to let a gag outstay its welcome – tend to come from slightly odd ideas, then performed with flourishes and unexpected twists to add to the joke. For the most part, there’s a well-developed drollness to the writing, meaning he’s one of those musical comics who actually earn their end-of-song applause breaks, rather than just benefiting from the Pavlovian response.
The stand-out track for me was the beautifully provocative song about John Lennon, and how his reputation would have crumbled had he continued into middle-age; although the jaunty student-aimed Stealing Food is as catchy as it is wrong. The silly Moon Chavs was apparently an internet hit, though it’s actually one of his simpler numbers.
Generally, the writing is sharp and sophisticated and the musicianship strong, making him a sort of Victoria Wood for the Spotify generation. Slightly Imperfect Girl is probably the track that best sums up his attitude to life, being a realistic love song yet still quietly celebratory.
A couple of the slower, more whimsical songs reduce the laugh rate,, but they never last long enough to cause a lull, so fall under the category of adding texture to what is a classy and funny lunchtime spirit-raiser. Thoroughly enjoyable stuff.
ThreeWeeks (Aug 2010)
★★★★
There's no need to pretend as there is plenty to enjoy in this hilarious stand-up show. Jay Foreman pleases with a set of catchy tunes complete with witty lyrics, and when he isn't singing, he's churning out laugh-out-loud jokes aplenty. The subject matters of his jokes and songs cover lots of ground, as topics as diverse as calypso drinks and botched bank robberies are explored, and the laughs are near-constant. His interaction with the audience was jovial, relaxed and utterly engaging; I was kept solidly entertained from beginning to end, and I could tell that the vast majority of the audience felt the same. In time, Jay Foreman will go far, so it's best to catch him in Edinburgh while you can.
The New Current (Aug 2010)
★★★★ (I cannot condone the abysmal grammar in this “review”, 4 star though it is)
Before this show was about to start Jay, who was sitting on the stage playing his guitar as the audience was filing in, stopped and told the crowd that he normally has water with him but he had forgot it. So he asked the audience if there was anyone who could play guitar whilst he went and go this water, a guys hand went up and so began this very odd, but pleasant, few minutes of a random being Jay's stand in. He might have had to continue doing the show as Jay told us he had forgotten his pass to get back in.
This would become the overall tone and theme of Jay's show. Incredibly warm, friendly, and he had a great rapport with the audience that was pretty unique. There was a good balance of ages in the crowd though I think he focused a bit more (well picked on) the students which was punctuated with a classic student song about stealing food which was amazing. Many of his songs where relatable and his range was quite diverse from the carton drink Calypso to the original Captain Birdseye, but I think my favourite song was about John Lennon and The Beatles.
Jay uses a lot of his own experiences well in his show and the student theme continues when he starts talking about his time at University and the things he thought he could do. But for us, as am sure for each night, he asks someone from the audience to come up and help him with a play he’s written and he couldn’t have picked the most unlikely audience member than Alan, a very Northern (I think Newcastle) care worker. Though once he got on stage his wife come running up with his reading glasses which got one of the most beautiful laughs I have heard.
So standing up there Alan and Jay tell this story, played out with Jay singing and Alan doing the spoken word bits. This was a great piece and worked so well the crowd loved it and Alan was a true trooper.
Jay Foreman give his show a real life that is full of his honesty, passion, and perfect humour that is fun to watch. He sometimes seems to think that some of the references may be lost on the audience and outside of the fringe and with a more awkward crowd I can see his point. But at the Fringe he doesn’t have to worry much at all as his song and material are well written and delivered. This show will leave you wanting more!
LoveFringe (Aug 2010)
★★★★
From beginning by asking for a guitar-playing member of the audience to volunteer to play something whilst he went and got a drink of water, Jay Foreman was relaxed and immensely watchable. Our particular ‘fill-in’ was really good as it turned out, prompting an “alright, get your own show!” on Jay's return to begin the show itself. The lyrics are clever and funny in equal measure and recognise shared experiences wonderfully. In particular, songs about Calypso, Captain Birdseye and students stealing food got much applause and laughter. My particular favourites were two tunes about no longer trusting Radio 4 (including accurately whistled ‘pips’!) and his search for a “Slightly Imperfect Girl”, from which I have now made a list to circulate amongst my single friends! The music is linked with confident banter, includes poems as well as songs and an enthusiastically enjoyable amount of audience participation. I thoroughly enjoyed this hour of my Fringe experience and would urge you to go along to hear ‘Doh a deer’ sung 1 syllable too late throughout, analysis of the Neighbours theme tune and the track which gives the show its name. I bought both CDs after the show and have been humming them ever since!
Oxfringe (Apr 2010)
★★★★★
Jay Foreman takes fresh, witty and incredibly catchy self penned songs and delivers them to a captivated audience with the relaxed manner of a seasoned entertainer, whilst retaining a level of charm that keeps a spellbinding hold over his audience. His songs are easy on the ear and his audience listen intently to every carefully constructed line, in amongst their own giggles and laughter. Pretend You're Happy is both silly and hilarious and it is the often touching blurring of these elements that made the audience leave extremely happy without an ounce of pretence.
Chortle (Mar 2010)
Jay Foreman was probably one of the most musically talented finalists, with a versatile set and compositions that sit very easy on the ears. He also takes a oblique comic angle with his writing, rather than going for obvious targets, which means that songs like I’m Glad John Lennon Is Dead will intrinsically hold the interest more than your standard parody. Likeable presence, elegant performance and a sparse but effective collection of gags add to a very pleasant package full of wit, if not bite, and well deserving of his third place.