Brendon Burns: So I Suppose THIS Is Offensive Now

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Brendon Burns has never been a comic to avoid offence, preferring to embrace it while repeatedly screaming ‘screw you’ in its face at ear-shattering levels. He’s always been one to say, or yell, his piece, and how dare anyone have the gall to get upset?

Imagine, then, the hypocrisy when he found himself taking offence at something. Not at angry words carrying hundreds of years of hatred – but at a comedy Australian cork hat he was asked to wear on TV. How dare they use such a cheap stereotype that was against all he stood for. It was the final straw that pushed him walk out of ITV2’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here spin-off after just three painful days.

So this, then, is a show primarily about what is and isn’t offensive. Burns’ poster, featuring him blacked up, as Jesus and in a wheelchair (in separate poses, I should add) most certainly is. But is there more to it than that?

Unusually for a man with a reputation as a hectoring comic who tells his audience exactly what’s what, this show is thought-provokingly ambiguous. He raises questions and leaves them unanswered. Racism, you see, is not always a black and white issue.

But let’s wind things back a bit first, Burns builds up to these significant subjects. This is his first show since his raw trilogy about his own mental breakdown, and – another surprise – he’s relishing discussing something other than himself for a change.

He’ll talk about reality TV, of his reaction to the failed suicide bombers, of how relationships never work out. This sounds like the set list of every two-bob comic ever to have taken to the stage, but he nails every one with a unique, passionate and insightful routine. It’s so good he doesn’t need to be screaming it, that’s the only complaint.

His screwed-up personality is always there, lurking in the background, but in this show the confessional side of him interjects to add to the material, rather than dominating it.

Just when you’re admiring these marvellous routines for the fine stand-up they are, Burns swoops in with a impressive grand theory of humanity that almost brings the show to a juddering halt under the weight of significance he attaches to it. But don’t worry, there are jokes to hang on his overarching premise.

A lot of them are to do with relationships – a searing insight that’s about as far from the cosy Jeff Green school of cute observations you can possibly get – but the best are on those fuzzy matters of taste and political correctness.

His discussion of these is not quite what you expect in a show that’s full of surprises – and the best will leave you gasping at its audacity and awestuck at the way he pulls it off.

All this, and I haven’t even got round to mentioning the ‘slutty’ dancers bringing a touch of seedy pizzazz to the already show – and giving Burns a way of getting out of more than one hole of his own digging. It’s another impressive offering from a man who knows exactly what a festival show demands. Go see.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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