Des Clarke: Desire
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Effervescent Glaswegian stand-up and award-winning presenter Des Clarke presents a new show taking on desire and all that goes with it – from passion and drive to longing and madness. With wit and warmth, he weaves surreal one-liners and ingenious wordplay in an engaging stream-of-consciousness full of spot-on observation.
There is no doubting Des Clarke’s status as a Scottish celebrity, with a popular radio show and several TV appearances under his belt he is the local boy made good. During the mandatory audience banter it becomes apparent that the majority of the crowd in tonight are also Scottish, which seems to throw Des and the thrust of his show.
Although the title is Desire, supposedly about Clarke’s wishes and aspirations, he spends the majority of the hour discussing Scotland; its history, its cities, its stereotypes and its very old jokes.
When a comedian of Clarke’s standard – who has bountiful experience of churning out fresh, topical material on a daily basis – resorts to relying on last year’s news stories you have to wonder what’s gone wrong. Not only is the material about the terrorist attack on Glasgow airport old it is also completely uninspired with the payoff being that the burning car was stopped in a no parking zone. This is not the only old material out for an airing, with bird flu making an unwelcome comeback, again with a flimsy punchline.
There is some chit chat about haggis, Irn-Bru and some of Scotland’s less salubrious areas which may provide some laughs from the non-Scots in the audience but to the majority of his Scottish demographic, this is nothing new, simply jokes we heard and retold in the playground when we were kids.
Clarke does provide some evidence how he ascended the rickety ladder of Scottish celebrity with some nice material on Mark Beaumont’s recent round-the-world cycle, and a nicely observed routine on vanity and male grooming.
Clarke is charming and has a warmth of delivery that draws you in, and I know he is capable of so much more. Sadly last year’s material is just not strong enough to get him through this year’s hour.
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw