Brendon Burns: Thinking Man's Idiot

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

A Brendon Burns Show carries certain expectations. Expectations of savage diatribes, sick imagery, a thesaurusful of swearing - and, of course, gratuitous offence.

While all of these were in evidence in this new show, there was something a little dulled about the performance Chortle saw - possibly due to whatever bug or vice had screwed Burns's voice.

Actually, the reality of a Brendon Burns Show never entirely lives up to the bad-boy hype. He's a bit too playful on stage to be truly offensive, and few in his audience can have such fragile sensibilities to be outraged by his material.

Comedy is often about exaggeration. And while it's true that this edgy Aussie is often a couple of steps more depraved than others, the joke lie in the fact that he envisages such ridiculous extremes, not necessarily in the twisted pictures he evokes.

This year's show also includes a doomed attempt to kerb the obscenities, with a swear box system fining him anything from 5p for the mildest curse to £1 for the vilest - 'Scouser'.

So far he's raised more than £100 for Tourette's sufferers, and made no noticeable impact on his language. Indeed, just explaining where the cash is going ratchets up the total a few quid.

When he's in full flow, Burns is one of the most impressively passionate comics around, but here he didn't seem to be firing on all cylinders. The routine seemed disjoined, never really building the momentum needed.

At times the heartfelt anger would kick in - even if it was about something as seemingly inconsequential as performance art - and Burns electrified the room. Elsewhere his comedy dynamo seemed to short-circuit.

Even off-form, Burns produces a very good show. But it's frustrating to know he can do a whole lot more than he did on this night.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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