Andy Zaltzman vs The Dog of Doom

Note: This review is from 2001

Review by Steve Bennett

Andy Zaltzman is producing some of the most interesting and intelligent stand-up around.

He aims terrifically high, with material that aims to capture vast and important ideas and distil them into surreal streams of observation, underlining the absurdity of the situations.

And, considering how ambitious his targets are, his strike rate is remarkably good, producing plenty of laughs from such complex social and political points.

The integrity of the material is clearly important to Zaltzman, who also takes some well-aimed pops at the conventions and laziness of more conventional stand-up.

Mind you, he's not beyond the odd groanworthy pun himself, albeit a finely crafted one.

At its best, the content is superb, although the densely packed routines can sometimes labour an idea beyond its comic limit.

But the show is ultimately let down by its execution.

Zaltzman is never going to be one of those charismatic comics who can effortlessly work a room, but the presentation could still do with more polish.

The Macguffin of getting the audience to vote for Zaltzman's treatise or the contrary opinions of the Dog Of Doom is an imaginative way to break up the material, even though it sometimes seems incongruously nailed onto the end of a routine.

But the voting, and the smattering of sketches with fellow comic John Oliver, still leaves the occasional lengthy chunk of monologue that can seem more like lecture than comedy, with too few gags to justify the concentration required.

However, as a debut Edinburgh show, this is a brave and welcome attempt to breathe new life into the genre.

And although the raw talent still needs to be better harnessed, it's a show well worth seeing now, to glimpse what the future of stand-up could, hopefully, be.

Review date: 1 Jan 2001
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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