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Danny Pensive's Map Of Britain
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Durham Review: 33rd Annual Surprise Party
Danny Pensive's Map Of Britain
Hello. I was on telly on ITV’s Stand up Comedy Hero. i done a show all about travel. i have been called ‘champion of the simple minded’ and ‘unpredictably funny’. I did supported Milton Jones for one date. Have I been to your town? Funny jokes and talking.
Danny Pensive’s Map of Britain
As Danny Pensive, the duffel-coated, simple soul from Sunderland, John Cooper offers an hour that seldom exceeds gentle amusement but is endearingly amiable throughout.
Once glued to his television, for reasons unexplained, Pensive simply jumped on a bus and started travelling around Britain. Opening with a video of him at various landmarks and featuring a cameo from Allo Allo’s Arthur Bostrom, there’s no great psychological motivation or guiding spirit to his travels, nor revelations to these anecdotes he relates. They’re just little slice-of-life vignettes told with an appreciation for local colour and eccentricity.
Beginning his reportage in the likes of Bridlington and Whitby, where Dracula went on holiday, he initiates the audience into the show with a demand for them to shout out where they perceive the north-south divide in Britain. Scots and a high proportion of Geordies in today’s crowd skewer the results somewhat but the passion and disparity of opinions ventured is intriguing, indicative of the ongoing importance of place in our identities.
Thereafter, volunteers are asked to draw place names from a pot so he can talk about them, the fact that he ultimately gets through them all rather undermining the random, spontaneous illusion of the storytelling.
Reflecting on why Newquay has the angriest seagulls or trying and failing to buy Worcester sauce in the city that shares its name, Pensive simply trots out his solitary anecdote per location and moves on, his hour clearly benefitting from contributions accumulated over the course of its Fringe run, even if they are just the tale of a stand-off he had with a woman on the pronunciation of ‘Brecon’. The broad sweep of the show affords it wide appeal, but beyond little frictions like this, there’s little worthwhile social analysis to take away.
Indeed, and rather damningly, the funniest moments are unrelated to Pensive’s travels, his occasional songs on subjects such as goldfish or writing your own message for a greeting card. Or the jokes that feel beyond the character’s intelligence: a deep, philosophical rumination on the speed of a clock’s second hand being the most glaring example. Very funny on the trades descriptions defiance of Rice Krispies and the recommended daily allowances of sugar, I’m unconvinced Pensive is showcasing the best of Cooper – and that he shouldn’t have stayed at home.
|Date of live review: Sunday 28th Aug, '11|
Review by Jay Richardson
Watch this space. Danny's character utterly convincing. He's about to join the comedy hall of fame with John Shuttleworth and Arthur Strong.
I saw this somewhat pedestrian, rambling show on what was apparently its third preview performance. This is whimsy, not comedy: John Cooper, as Danny Pensive, makes various observations about the towns of Britain, reading some out from his diary, giving others from memory. Some are funny, some are just strange, while others simply do not work at all. There is a lot wrong with this show. For whimsy to be endearing the person making the observations has to be sympathetic; now, whilst I do not know whether John Cooper sounds like, or has the same Sunderland accent, as Danny Pensive, the fact is that this chosen persona becomes after a while very tedious indeed, the sort of person you long to get away from at a party – but at the same time are not quite certain whether you ought to lest he come out with something interesting after all. It did, however, seem a very long hour, and Danny/John was lucky to escape unscathed when he was rash enough to ask the audience “Is there anywhere youse think ah should go next, like?”. Only my inherent politeness prevented me from yelling out “Home!” And amazingly enough, everyone else seemed to be the same. Sadly, and somewhat ironically, this show goes nowhere, and I am not confident that it can be resuscitated for Edinburgh.