Markus Birdman: Son Of A Preacher Man
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
It's about my relationship with my father, who's a vicar. It's about my relationship with my daughter, who's two. It's about my relationship with God, who's never there. And it's about an hour.
‘It’s very easy to take the piss out of the Christians,’ says Markus Birdman. ‘But that’s no reason not to.’
And that pretty much sums up his show. It can be very funny, with sharp lines charmingly delivered, even if the sceptical sentiments he expresses are often identical to ideas other comics have previously shared. Yes, it is very easy to recycle these arguments – but you can’t escape the fact he does it very well.
His is one of two shows in the Fringe brochure that share the title Son Of A Preacher Man, but Birdman, an atheist, has no interest in giving a personal account of life as a vicar’s son. Rather, he uses this as a jumping-off point for his polemic against the Church, the Bible and various associated – and some completely disassociated - topics.
The naïve trust Joseph must have had to believe the pregnant Mary was still a virgin, the annoyance of being nailed to a cross ‘over a bank holiday’, and the illogical belief that quoting the Bible, rather than any other random book, wins any argument are among his thoughts – and they’ve all been covered before.
Add to that some non-religious material about the British Museum containing treasures we’ve nicked, or that hoary old staple easyJet, and it’s an unambitious, very familiar landscape.
Yet Birdman has the ability to get to the heart of the matter with a pithy joke or elegant turn of phrase. He has a great natural delivery, too, that engages the audience and gives gags added punch. The hour does fly by, and without the aid of much in the way of gimmicks or over-obvious structure, save for a few multiple-choice questions he reads from a book. Mostly, it’s just good, solid stand-up – and damn effective it is too.
It would be unfair to suggest Birdman hasn’t much originality, as there’s also plenty in the hour that is actually fresh, rather than his lively delivery just making it seem that way. But his frequent turning to ideas previously well-exploited in stand-up is what costs this undeniably entertaining and funny show a fourth star.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett