Perfectly Goddam Delightful

Brighton Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Even on its first public airing, this is a robust hour of material from Dan Fardell (pictured) and Pete Strong – a confident, gag-packed show that delivers solid laughs. Both acts, admittedly, have some way to go before they dazzle with brilliance, but they prove themselves a safe quartet of hands, with some moments of real flair.

Initially, it appears as if poet Strong has cloned the spirit of Tim Key as he languidly takes to the stage to an atmospheric backing track, downs an heroic quantity of booze, then takes an age deliberately fiddling with the microphone until he produces his notebook of verse.

This, though, is an aberration, and he soon establishes himself as his own man. A depressed, misanthropic man who sees no speck of hope in the blackness of human misery, admittedly, but his own man nonetheless. And thankfully he’s channelled that bleakly nihilistic attitude in to cathartically funny material.

The poems, as it transpires, are something of a minority factor in a set in which he muses entertainingly on the futility of existence. The attitude is well-judged, walking a fine emotional line with an assured step that ensures the laughs from the right places, even if the writing needs some polish.

A deliberately repetitive segment about life being a lake of shit doesn’t have the payoff the audience’s investment demands, typical of a performance that can dwell too much on the downsides before the tension-relieving gag. And the joke about ‘how come Tony Benn died and Katie Hopkins lives?’ is a clumsy reworking of Bill Hicks’s take on musicians.

But Strong largely knows his own voice, and once the bumps are ironed out should deliver a consistent and distinctive 20 minutes.

Fardell, too, finds humour in his depressed state: poor, single and plagued by wretched thoughts – it’s clear the Perfectly Goddam Delightful show title is darkly ironic. Though i there’s actually a chipper edge to Fardell’s manner that these circumstances wouldn’t immediately suggest. Perhaps that’s because, as he later admits, he no longer lives quite the lonely, aimless existence in a miniscule bedsit that he first claims.

But so what if this winningly self-deprecating comic is not a stickler for narrative consistency. The joke clearly rules his work, and he fair packs them in, writing with the efficiency of the slickest American comic to ensure that every morsel revealed about himself is the kernel for a tight one-liner. So even if the quality is variable, the audience is never far from some sort of a laugh – and, as it happens, never all that far from a big one, either.

For there is some inventive writing on display here, from an obvious craftsman who chisels every idea into the best shape it can be. It’s refreshing to see a relative newcomer display such diligence, setting him a step above those with rambling sets that seem more like simply talking out loud than showcases for sharp ideas. Fardell is definitely on the right course for better things both in comedy and, from the basis of what he tells us, his life.

Review date: 21 May 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Hobgoblin

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