Pierre Novellie: “Why Are You Laughing?” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

**** (out of 5)

If, even after all of these years, you still question why Pierre Novellie has a French first name, even though his last name is Italian and his heritage spans from South Africa to the Isle of Man, well the comedian still will entertain you with the long story. Long story short? “It’s not my fault. It’s Louis XIV’s fault.”

Novellie does question his own identity, though. And in a skillful hour, he’ll also unpack for the rest of us why learning to play the saxophone was somehow worse than facing his worst fear, why he never seems to get the same haircut twice despite always asking for the same number on the chart, and why he used to love reading fantasy books until he didn’t. In a full month of Fringe, I’m happy to report that this was the first time I heard the words “woke mob” uttered from the stage, and even then, they were used satirically in a bit invoking an imaginary Joe Rogan Experience podcast with his guest, Dr. Asperger, as the doctor posthumously bemoans his so-called cancellation.

And like many comedians at this year’s Fringe, he has become more than woke himself to the notion that stand-up comedy is overflowing with neurodivergent folk, and perhaps that shouldn’t surprise anyone upon further reflection. And yet, Novellie asks: “What if that’s all it’s ever been?” That’s fine by him. But what would that mean for Mr. Bean, pray tell, and would you feel differently if you knew his specific diagnosis? At his most deviant, Novellie would wish to ruin all other comedians for you. Whether or not he does, Novellie does answer his titular question. You’re laughing because he’s a highly proficient nightclub comedian. No other labels or diagnosis necessary.

Pierre Novellie: Why Are You Laughing? runs through Aug. 27 at Monkey Barrel 3

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →