Finlay Christie review – TikToker’s vindication of Gen Z

Gen Z’ers have every reason to feel old before their time. But should 22-year-old Finlay Christie already be getting nostalgic for his lost youth? The latter stages of Christie’s fringe debut find him pining for the simplicities of his standup infancy: he first performed comedy aged six, and has the videos to prove it. Talk about accelerated development: Christie won the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny? contest (previous winners: Peter Kay, Lee Mack, Aisling Bea) when just 19, and has since amassed over 100m views on TikTok.

All of which well qualifies him to pronounce on young people today: how they live, and how they are maligned. That’s the stuff of OK Zoomer, which begins by making a droll distinction between boy and man, and proceeds to clarify why Christie has no interest in joining the latter camp.

Fair enough: look at what damage the grownups have wrought. But Christie’s vindication of Gen Z has finite persuasive power. There’s a fine joke about Greta Thunberg, but its point is that her qualities are not typical of her peers. Smartphone dependency is defended on the basis that “phones are better than happiness”, and the significance Christie and his cohort ascribe to pronouns is paralleled with my generation’s supposed feelings towards (oh, the shame) Princess Diana.

Related: From time machines to threesomes: 12 of the funniest jokes from the Edinburgh fringe

All of this is easy to enjoy, if a little underpowered. Christie delivers it with a sly twinkle, but scant depth of feeling. Over the show’s course, he bounces back and forth between optimism and fatalism about the world’s future in his generation’s hands, and settles on little beyond “the kids are alright” platitudes. There’s some material that’s greener than you’d expect, too, after a 16-year apprenticeship, such as the PowerPoint slides on imaginary university societies, or the joke about having a micro-penis.

But there’s also enough here – in the routines about phone flirting, sliding into the DMs, and the self-mocking jokes about competing with Malala Yousafzai for a place at uni – to suggest a standup whose “voice of a generation” claims, while currently tenuous, may one day be convincing.