No one can accuse monologist James Judd of false advertising. His return to the Capital Fringe Festival with “Funny Stories 2” is exactly what it purports to be. Judd uses a handful of props, a little lighting and a few sound effects to aid in his hour-long performance, which consists of three amusing autobiographical tales.
He begins in childhood, reminiscing about an attempt at winning his grade school’s annual book-report competition with an unintentionally inappropriate tome. It’s a cute story in its own right, but it nevertheless pales beside a provocative second yarn about his fascination with an enigmatic dermatologist and his final entry, which uproariously recounts the storyteller’s adventures in a shark cage.
Judd’s conversation style is loud, lightning fast and nonstop — he doesn’t seem to need to breathe as much as a typical human — and the result is a constantly engaging pileup of quips. It can take a few moments for a joke to register, but by then Judd has unfurled a few more laugh-worthy lines. One of Judd’s biggest assets is his delivery, which rarely feels rehearsed, as if he’s simply recounting these absorbing personal anecdotes over dinner. And his talents extend to physical humor, whether he’s imitating a shark or mimicking an oafish boat captain.
“Funny Stories 2” was one of the first shows to kick off Fringe this year, but Judd seemed to be taking it in stride as he casually walked onstage at the Caos on F gallery. “Relax,” he told the audience. “You’re in the hands of a master.”
You can take him at his word.