Review: Ian Smith: Crushing

An outstanding and stressed-out hour of stand-up

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Ian Smith
Photo by Matt Stronge
Published 23 Aug 2023

Crushing is a tale of the road stress travelled as Ian Smith attempts to deal with his overwhelming levels of anxiety in increasingly desperate ways, until he's driving a tank over a Toyota in Slovakia. 

We all handle stress differently and its florid effects on every part of the body is nicely caught by Smith, casting doubt on its evolutionary advantages. He can't even rest without stress haunting his sleep, grinding his teeth by night, for which his dentist issues him with a reprimand and mouthguard. Both of which, in their own ways, perpetuate more stress. Putting the mouthguard in doesn't necessarily mean he'll find it in there come the morning. He's tried a floatation tank too, among many other things, but sometimes the sickness really is better than the cure. With nothing working to quieten his mind, the car crushing trip to eastern Europe seems less absurd and inevitable by the time Smith reaches that part of the story. 

But the real adrenaline rush we experience over this hour comes from the number and volume of laughs Smith elicits through his aptly exasperated performance and the quality of his writing. He's one of our most consistent comedians – properly funny – and Crushing is a cathartic and exhaling release from tension.