Brendan Riley: Comedy Sushi

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

Brendan Riley's Edinburgh gimmick is a pick-and-mix approach to his material.

All his routines are presented on a menu, with audience members invited to choose from various categories, each relating to a sketch, joke or anecdote.

He tells us the idea is to break down barriers between audience and performer - a task made infinitely easier by the smallness of the room; the audience are virtually spilling on to the stage anyway.

Riley is effusive and enthusiastic, describing Comedy Sushi as "the friendliest show on the fringe" and he variously implores and demands the audience involve themselves in the show.

He s a naturally funny man who very obviously wants people to have fun, providing us with catchphrases and stock reactions to trot out in true Bruce Forsyth style.

Much of his material is anecdotal and he is at his best when relating real-life incidents. He has a talent for observation, and is not afraid to use family, friends or himself as objects of the fondest mockery.

It is a populist and well-meaning approach, Riley's ability to connect with his audience serving him well. But too often he lets himself down.

Tired and trite explanations of the emotional differences between men and women isn't especially palatable, neither is sketchy material based around a charity parachute jump. And his punchlines are often weak, no matter how picturesque the journey towards them.

Riley would no doubt be an excellent addition to a night out with your friends, but as a professional comedian he is the type of dish I could easily take or leave.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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