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Danielle Ward: Lies
Dead chickens, fake suicide, roller-blades and Angelica Houston are just some of the words that might be appearing in the new stand-up show from the award-winning writer and star of cult hits Take-a-Break Tales and Psister Psycho.
Danielle Ward: Lies – Fringe 2009
Danielle Ward likes the fact that some of her jokes are so obscure or so bleak that only a few people get them. It’s an admirable commitment to her art, but it doesn’t always make her shows easy to recommend. Some of her ‘have you ever noticed…’ observational gambits, for instance, would probably only truly resonate at a group therapy session for depressives with particular penchant for late Seventies rock, rather than your average comedy audience.
Still, there is guilty pleasure to be had from the dark originality of those mordant jokes that do hit home, even if there are frequent lulls between them.
Taking her theme of lies, this dourly deadpan comic begins with a mixture of truths, urban myths and downright untruths and asks is to guess ‘true or false’. She’s not exactly the slick, glitzy game show host, and the audience interaction is stilted, even if some of the obscure details she reveals are strangely fascinating.
This gives way to her own material, a mix of deliciously mean-hearted gags, weird stories from her own, isolated youth, and more straightforward stand-up fare, such as the difference between Radio 4 and the idiot-magnet that is TalkSport. Misery is never far away: parasitic twins, the day she drowned chicks as a child, and her early romantic encounter with the man with a fetish for eye sockets, are among the subjects covered in her Stewart Lee-inspired monotone.
The challenging subject matter can be a turn-off, and she makes little concession to sweeten the pill. The narrative wanders and while a ringing banana phone provides occasional distraction, it always heralds an example of Ward’s ‘acting’ that aims for the surreal, but hits the ‘baffling indulgent’ instead.
She delights in deliberately bringing down the mood – a rare desire for a comedian to have – with tales of death that don’t always end in a cheeky punchline to generate laughs from the release of the dour mood. Broodingly dark comedy is one thing, but Ward risks overwhelming her dry wit with solemn morbidity.
The images will certainly stick with you – as will some of her dry lines, since this Radio 4 writer can string together a gag if she needs to. There just aren’t quite enough of them to overcome he sombre subject matter… and that’s no lie.
|Date of live review: Wednesday 19th Aug, '09|
Review by Steve Bennett
Interesting. Just too long and not funny. Seemed very forced. Oh well. you live and learn.
Arrogant, smug and unfunny... and these are the positives. I'll be giving Miss Ward a miss next year, that's for sure!
God, I don't know why I bothered. Last night was worst then last year. No stage presence. You feel like she resents having to be on stage. Save your money. There are better things to see at the fringe.
Dirty Book Club
Take A Break Tales
The Book Club
Robin Ince's Christmas Book Club 2006
Danielle Ward: Psister Psycho
Danielle Ward In Glorious Technicolor
Ward and White's Project Ace
Danielle Ward: Play Dead
Danielle Ward: Speakeasy
Do The Right Thing
Gareth Morinan Presents the Saturday Debates
Do The Right Thing