Dan Antopolski's Penetrating Gaze

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

In the three years since Dan Antopolski last played the fringe, he’s fathered two babies. Yes, it’s mellowed him a bit, and yes, he does talk about them rather a lot, but neither to the detriment of his act.

With the maturity has come a much-needed focus in the material – but thankfully he hasn’t grown up enough to stop acting the fool for our entertainment. In fact, it often seems as if he’s performing for the audience exactly as he would to his children, unselfconsciously employing whatever daft faces, silly songs and pantomime actions he believes might get a laugh. Impersonating chickens, doing a poor-quality robot dance or skipping to the stage in a superhero’s cloak – he’ll do it all with gusto – and no obvious sense of embarrassment.

Occasionally, he catches himself acting the idiot, snapping back to reality in sudden, if feigned realisation that he’s supposed to be a grown-up. But it’s only to release the mood and get a laugh, and it’s not long till he’s at it again. There’s a strong sense of cheeky fun running through this, with Antopolski clearly enjoying every minute, happy just to be entertaining himself; if the audience come along too, then it’s a bonus.

For the most part, they do, although for some of the more indulgent routines – such as his imagined conversation with a worm or his riff on Pluto’s declassification as a planet – it’s more that we’re just humouring him. The very fact these sections are long and convoluted is the joke, but it’s a hard trick to pull off. And at least Antopolski is self-effacing enough to wittily draw attention to segments that don’t work.

For all the knowing, ironic tomfoolery, Antopolski is, at heart, an old-fashioned joke-writer with an ear for contrived but wonderfully original wordplay. He certainly hits his quota of inventively silly lines in this hour, especially the first half of it, with a generous handful of lines you’ll be itching to try out on your friends. And the rap about sandwiches is inspired, if bizarre.

It’s infantile, but it’s funny. Welcome back, Dan.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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