March 2, 2024

Edinburgh Fringe Review: That’s Not How You Spell Pedantic

Warning: this show does contain elements of poetry.

Let’s start with a confession: I am a pedant. I correct other people’s grammar. I correct my own grammar. I correct factual errors at every possible opportunity. Historical inaccuracies make me twitchy. So naturally, when I saw a show called That’s Not How You Spell Pedantic I couldn’t resist giving it a look.

I don’t think I was the only one, which brings me to the biggest problem with the show. Self-proclaimed ‘Punk Poet’ Jim Higo is a pedant and proud of it, his show is about pedantry and the audience is full of pedants.

See what I’m getting that here? Any mistakes he makes show up like nothing else. During the show he mentioned that he once had an audience member correct his pronunciation. Afterwards someone kindly told him that he’d said ‘less’ when he meant ‘fewer’. If you’re interested in seeing That’s Not How You Spell Pedantic then you’re probably a pedant, and if you’re a pedant you’ll probably find something wrong with it. For me it was his insistence that split infinitives are ‘grammatical incorrect’ – they are not – and calling out another man on misogyny during a poem with a terrible case of ‘nice guy syndrome’.

That out of the way, That’s Not How You Spell Pedantic is a whole lot of fun; raunchy, satirical and witty, all underpinned by Jim Higo’s socialisst politics. Higo outright says he wants to get away from the idea that poetry is only for intellectuals and to bring it back to the streets – and, as it happens, into the pubs. There’s an awful lot of poems about beer, occasional snippets of politics, and some truly terrible jokes.

Despite the intimate and slightly shaking setting, the whole show feels very slick. It seems like the kind of comedy you’d get post-watershed on Channel 4, with shades of classics like Room 101. Not the best poetry you’ll see on the Fringe this year, nor the best comedy, but probably one of the best meldings of the two: Higo’s stand-up slides into rhyme so smoothly it’s sometimes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

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