Sam Lloyd is a new name to my ears. The 24-year-old from Newport has been performing stand up since he was in his teens, but it feels as if this is the start of something bigger as he starts to put together the beginnings of his next Edinburgh show, Piñata. He performs the first preview of this at The Little Man Coffee Company in Cardiff, with two supports (Calum Stewart and Emily Broad) and MC James Dunn.
The show is primarily PowerPoint-based, beginning with a fast-paced, laughter-filled rundown of the comedian’s early life, with embarrassing photos and all. But he soon proves that he isn’t over-reliant on the projector as a crutch; Lloyd is more than happy to face his crowd and deliver top quality, inventive material that the small room just laps up.
Structurally, this Piñata clearly has a great deal of promise, despite still being on its first draft. With a big tone shift towards the end of Sam’s stage time, the comic moves seamlessly from anecdotal trivialities to a much broader, more serious topic: that of mental health and depression.
He speaks openly about his experiences of feeling unworthy of help, or perhaps just not even needing it. Although he skirts past the details of his depression somewhat, as Lloyd’s audience we are still made to feel as though this is a genuine sharing of some pretty close to the heart stuff. His message, at this point in the development of the show at least, is that depression can happen to anyone; we all get it wrong sometimes and forget to take proper care of ourselves and talk to other people about how we are feeling.
And this strange notion of presuming that we might not deserve to feel this way, as though we don’t have the right to be depressed, is absurd. I think it’s important that audiences hear this message, and comedy is becoming an increasingly popular means of getting such ideas across. And Sam does it with a seemingly effortless ease. He clearly belongs on that stage.
And with original call backs and a clear narrative arc, Piñata is surely almost Edinburgh-ready even at this early stage, eight months before the festival begins. I hadn’t heard of his name before seeing this preview, but I’m certain that we’ll be hearing a great deal more about Sam Lloyd in the next few years, and not just in Wales, but nationwide.