There's something decidedly nerve-wracking about the combination of free shows and technology. The risk of things going seriously awry is seriously high – but with Olaf Falafel, we are in safe hands. Or rather, it’s his iPhone that’s in safe hands, and from it he controls all of his show’s slick action and sound.
Olaf Falafel is a daft name. The Cheese of Truth is a daft title. And this is a gloriously daft show. A long attention span is not required: it’s easy-watching, lowbrow stuff. The idea of cheese being able to reveal truth, like some kind of dairy oracle, is a premise and a kind of silliness that I really enjoyed engaging with. There is a small sprinkling of subtle political satire, mostly coming from “the cheese of truth’s” revelations, but it’s heavily doused in visual gags; one of my favourites was the entirely ridiculous and very funny use of a croissant as the hair on a Donald Trump puppet (achieving a startlingly accurate likeness).
Falafel, who promotes himself as Sweden’s eighth-funniest comedian, has a slightly dour persona, with a combination of faux naivety and strong irony in his delivery. But telling jokes is only a part of his act, and it’s the short videos and graphics on the screen behind him that often take the limelight. Sometimes these illustrate and expand on the live action in the foreground, while sometimes they act as standalone gags; either way they’re punchy, surprising and highly entertaining, keeping up the energy and pace in the show. The ideas are simple (if a little abstract), yet you shouldn’t underestimate the skill, time and effort required to produce the brief clips we see.
Falafel is the only man on stage, but his act was aided on this occasion by a couple of audience members, while several other performers appear in his videos to add an extra dimension to proceedings. He plays with his audience as well, and it appears would be unfazed by anything he might encounter in the process.
All in all, this is a very high-quality offering: it’s confident, seamless, polished and professional, yet the experience feels comfortable and laid-back. Falafel’s brand of fun, it would seem, carries a wide appeal. Those who are accustomed to the kind of quick-fire media on offer from the likes of You Tube and Vine will feel right at home here, alongside the lovers of live entertainment. Little wonder, then, that he was playing to a packed audience, something that (especially given this is a free show) looks set to continue throughout August.