Danny Bhoy: Live At The Festival Theatre

DVD review by Steve Bennett

If they gave out Nobel Prizes for breakthroughs in comedy – and it’s a travesty that they don’t – Danny Bhoy would never be among the laureates. For his is a broad, accessible and conservative comedy that’s all about reinforcing what the audience already know, not pushing the boundaries.

At times, this approach means he strays into dangerously familiar territory: How many stand-ups, for instance, have done routines about going to France and discovering the language they learned by rote is suddenly useless when the conversation doesn’t follow the textbook’s script?

National stereotypes are a huge part of his act: ‘In Scotland, we're…’ is a common start to various bits of comedy business; reinforcing the images of hard-drinking no-nonsense countrymen as full of pride as they are in cholesterol, even taking that pride in things that are a little bit rubbish.

Likewise, Americans are gun-toting rednecks who can’t take their booze, and are flummoxed by the delicacy that is a full Scottish breakfast. The barman he encounters Stateside, for example, is a toothless redneck who talks like a cartoon cowboy.

And on the other side of the world Australians are mocked, as they so often have been mocked before, for their unimaginative way of naming things, or their earthy slang, which isn’t without wit in the first place.

Both these national cliches are evoked as Bhoy recalls his globe-trotting adventures back to the Edinburgh crowd, casually dropping in the time he spent in LA, or doing the David Letterman show in New York. However any boasts are hidden beneath self-deprecating stories, told to eke out the most embarrassment he can from his clumsy dressing-room encounter with Matt Damon, for example.

For Bhoy is one charming comedian, and he epitomises the relaxed, easy-going everyman on stage, able to sell even relatively inconsequential routines with a combination of good grace, a well-developed comic rhythm and an underplayed, but effective physicality. Describing the behaviour of drunks, for example, requires no great invention – but his recreation of tipsy girls is spot-on in both word and deed. He over-uses the technique of correcting himself after an apparent mistake (what we might call a faux faux pas), but that’s the only niggle on the delivery.

So while you won’t find any of this year’s greatest routines on Danny Bhoy’s DVD, it’s straightforward, undemandingly amusing stuff... perhaps ideally suited for the woozy stupor of the festive season when you don’t want to be thinking while you consume your comedy.

Published: 29 Nov 2012

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