Dan Atkinson Knows That He Knows Nothing

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

After a long, rambling introduction Dan Atkinson shuffles absent-mindedly on to the stage and starts meekly apologising for everything.

He’s sorry for that very introduction, for the quality of the walk-on music, for making judgments about audience members, for feeling unwell, for the fact he’s not very good at starting properly…

As a way of building a sense of occasion, he couldn’t do much worse. He makes it sound like this is going to be a ramshackle collection of random, ill-considered thoughts rather than a show that any effort has been lavished on.

And for the next hour, he demonstrates that’s exactly what he’s got, never seeming in any rush to reach a punchline, nor any compunction to focus on the subject in hand. It’s no wonder he’s so unhurried, though, given that he’s so obviously not got enough decent material to sustain the running time.

That’s not to say he hasn’t got some great lines, with nicely mean opinions on parenting, funny observations on signs he’s spotted and the folly of fruit tea, plus an surprising segment about IVF treatment that’s simply excellent.

In all there is 20 minutes of the good stuff, tops. Which, by absolutely no coincidence, is the average length of a club set. But the material he hasn’t already worked through the circuit is completely pointless, and largely unfunny.

The general theme is that as boorish Britain becomes increasingly uncivilised, he wants to look back at the cradle of civilisation in ancient Greece, with special emphasis on its philosophers who defined the way that society functioned. Only problem is that, as advertised by the title, he knows nothing much about the subject, which means we’re left only with vague ponderings based on nothing.

Likewise, he confesses to understating little of religion or politics, yet that doesn’t stop him addressing these topics with the same level of half-arsed argument. He’s a man saying nothing about subjects he doesn’t know anything about, and doesn’t even mine his ignorance for many laughs. Is this really worth £8.50 (£9.50 at weekends)

When you could easily rip out the very theme of the show, discarding it and all the associated routines, and end up with a much better – if admittedly much shorter – experience, it can’t be good.

Although shambolic, Atkinson is usually a skillful comic – the established material scattered through the hour demonstrates that – but this, sadly, is not a skillful show.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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