This review contains spoilers.

Pierre Novellie (BudPod, The Mash Report, Stand Up Central, The Now Show) is best known for his wry, intelligent skewering of world events, usually from a fairly hard-line leftist angle and always incredibly well-informed. He is also widely known for his effortless and hysterical interactions with the audience. This show marks a departure for Novellie’s fans, as he delivers a monologue, more personal and confessional than observational, and with no audience participation. But it’s still Novellie, and, as usual, he’s created an exceptional stand up show that everybody should see.

The monologue seeks to answer the the title’s question: why is it that Novellie can’t just enjoy things? Most of life is fine, he says: “six out of ten”. More than enough to be happy with. So why does poor audience behaviour at the cinema and the theatre bug him so much? Why does he struggle so much with a morning routine? Why does he find it necessary to unpack the literal meaning of such idioms as, “There are children starving in Africa”? Why is he so obsessed with tanks?

The answer, in a coup-de-stand-up, is one that led him to the doctor’s office, where he was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s. So the show is more than just hysterical observational comedy about the things that annoy us; it’s a show about how people with Asperger’s can struggle with day-to-day life, but how, overall, people with Asperger’s can thrive, find love, and find fulfilment in life.

Novellie’s trademark surreal flights of fancy offer many of the show’s highlights, including an incredible reveal (worthy of Terry Gilliam) that a large chunk of the show was a brief aside in order to explain one detail. Even without audience participation, the laughs come thick and fast, and (without sounding too corny), you leave having learnt something, too.

Playing 30 January – 8 February 2023 at the Soho Theatre, and 15 June 2023 at the Leicester Square Theatre.

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