ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is essentially the pleasant tingling sensation you may or may not receive when someone rustles paper, snicks scissors, or whispers in your ear. It took off in a big way thanks to YouTube and podcasting, and hence this phenomena is slowly becoming more widely known in the popular consciousness, making it a ripe (if fringe) target for comedy and parody. Which bring us to Issy Phillips, and her Fringe show ASMR Live.
It's a brave choice to tackle something which is this obscure, but Phillips has a strong hold on the material and crafts a show which is devastatingly funny straight off the bat. There's the inherent funniness of whisper-shouting at the audience, the morbidly disarming study of grief, and some clever little touches of foley work which bring brilliant life to a concept which, in the hands of a lesser comedy acolyte, could have been staid and rote.
The elephant in the room for this show is that it quickly pivots away from ASMR into more conventional sketch. This is hardly a disappointment, though, as Phillips brings the same ingenuity to her whisper-play as she does to her takes on Tupperware Ted Talks, bleeding-edge dance moves, and the national pride-shame that is Chris Lilley. A highlight for me was the stay-at-home gamer-mum ditty, which reaches beyond the obvious punchlines for rhymes that truly sparkle – it's also pretty catchy, too. On the other hand, I was not as on-board for the Jigsaw trolley-problem gag, which ran a bit long and was wisely left towards the end.
It's always a delight to witness sketch that feels this fresh and innovative. Phillips has the stage presence, the lyrical talents, and the comedic sensibilities to produce clever and memorable comedy, and although this isn't a faultless suite of sketch, ASMR Live comes damn close.