Tim McNiven ‘Emasculated’

Razz My Berries sent writer Louie to check out what’s what with Exeter’s answer to student comedy…

“It made me feel so good about my life”, one punter told Tim after a gig. Although bluntly put, this is kind of the point of Tim McNiven’s stand up show Emasculated: to speak about the unspeakably embarrassing social, sexual and sometimes familial experiences that most (note the emphasis) of us have had.

“You have to tell an audience that it’s ok to talk about certain things”, Tim tells me, probably referring to some of the less elegant carnal happenings recalled in his show, beyond the world of slick BNOCs and the lycra-clad tangerines. “Sex is about affirmation” ultimately “we want people to like us and for some reason we value sex more than other things”. Tim doesn’t think this is just a symptom of Exter Uni and it’s penchant for Safer Sex Ball meat-market exhibitionism, but everyone, “I don’t think we ever get to an age where you stop worrying about it”.

This bold honesty is the main thread of his show, rooted in his personal experiences and his admiration for the “self-deprecating style” of comics like Woody Allen and Simon Amstell. “I’m different now”, he reassure me, “although, things happen to me again and I realise that I’m the same idiot”. Comforting stuff!

It is possible that the sheer quantity of comedians doing the low self-esteem shtick might slightly dilute the originality of Tim’s ideas, but his comedy presence and confidence with his material makes this a moot point. What’s more, his material is truly personal and, unlike the coffee-shop ramblings of Amstell, it is self-deprecating and not self-indulgent.

The ease of his delivery makes the material believable and engrossing, despite a few negligible slip ups, his background as a drama student has clearly equipped him with sufficient theatrical guile and confidence to perform as well as write comedy. This is all the more commendable since Emasculated was formed in only a month, prompted by the offer of a slot at last summer’s Ignite Festival, Tim threw together his best late night tales and took to the stage. He is now determined to go to Edinburgh and become one of those fully fledged Comedians.

Ultimately, he sums the show up better than I can: “my own experiences provide me with a unique perspective and that’s worth giving to an audience”, referring again to the importance of truthfulness in his stand up, “you want to get braver and braver to the point that you’re saying the things which nobody says. I think they’re the bits I’m most proud of!”

Written for Razz by Louie Freeman-Bassett.

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