Damian Clark and Andrew Stanley: I Dare Ya!

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Here's a high-concept idea that's so simple yet full of potential: basically a live version of hidden camera shows like Trigger Happy TV, in which stupid stunts are carried out to the bemusement of passers-by. I say bemusement, though indifference is probably a better term, so used are we to seeing extroverts dressed as idiots and acting like jerks.

The twist with I Dare Ya is that the zany antics are suggested by the audience. Suggestions are gathered each night, the best chosen to be the next day's escapade, and the ensuing video incorporated into the show, along with the best of the rest. Theoretically, then, this is a show that can only better with age since the amount of footage to draw on increases every 24 hours.

Australian Damian Clark and Irishman Andrew Stanley establish the format by showing stunts they filmed in Dublin before coming to Edinburgh: changing into superhero outfits in a phone box then running through the city centre, and driving through a housing estate, dressed as Santa, with Christmas songs blaring from the stereo, distributing sweets. These segments were over-long ­ perhaps they have to be, to make up the hour so early in the Fringe ­ but do explain the concept.

That no one really reacts to them is a sign of how tolerant people have become to such stunts. A market researcher even stops the superhero to complete a questionnaire about the state of Dublin's public transport. It will be even harder to raise an eyebrow in Edinburgh, where long-suffering residents have come to be utterly blasé about wacky show-promoting stunts. In this month-long rag week, who's going to notice another couple of foolish show-offs?

This might not be intelligent, thoughtful, comedy ­ about half the late-night audience were whooping and hollering Aussies who wouldn't be out of place in The Friday Night Project studio audience ­ but it is good fun.

A concept like this works not so much on what Clark and Stanley are prepared to do ­ which turns out to be pretty much every challenge except the illegal, ones which disrupt other shows, and those involving physical pain, thank god, no Balls Of Steel agony here ­ but on how the sell it to the audience.

This is where they do well, as effervescent and upbeat hosts, bursting with playful energy, taking on the stunts for the sheer hell of it, and accepting how ridiculous they are for doing so. With a show that changes every night, they need to be quick on their feet, and that's a definite yes, too.

I Dare Ya feels like a natural TV format ­ there are certainly worse examples of the genre on screen already ­ and while the idea of a stunt show won't be to everyone's taste, Clark and Stanley certainly execute it very well.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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