Brendon Burns: Fuck You I'm Brendon Fucking Burns Part VI (Again)

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

After winning Edinburgh’s biggest prize last summer, Brendon Burns says he’s not going to pander to the critics any more. The grand ideas that won him acclaim, he says, just get in the way of him telling his jokes. Now he’s nothing left to prove, why should he bother trying too hard? This one is for the fans, not the head-up-their-arses reviewers.

Although you should never take everything this cocksure Aussie says at face value, especially about cynically cashing in on his 2007 success, his argument is flawed. The reasoning of a man who wants to cover himself. In case he fails, he can always claim that he never wanted to succeed.

Also, why the distinction between critics and fans anyway, even tongue-in-cheek. Can’t you please both? We’re not different species. Burns says he’s tired of performing to loud drunks on the Jongleurs circuit, and he’s built up a sizeable Edinburgh following on the strength of his more ambitious shows that’s allowing him to do just that. Would he really alienate them?

‘If you don’t like it, I’m kinda on your side,’ he confesses, muddying the waters of expectation before he gets stuck into the body of his show. And what of that show? Well, it’s patchy, to say the least.

There is some very straightforward stuff in here, about pervy Catholic priests, cigarette-packet warnings, Aussie rules football being ‘a bit gay’, about Prince Harry. It is the makings of a standard club set, hollered out at eardrum-threatening volume by a man dressed as Conan The Barbarian. And yes, he does do an Arnold Schwartzenegger impression, one that goes on way too long and recurs way too often.

It’s hacky, and he knows it. He’s playing with the idea of the complacency of the successful… but the problem is, it’s inevitably led him to some mediocre material to make his point. Catch-22.

In contrast, there are some quality routines to be found here, too. He gives the Quebecois some well-deserved stick, and gets properly nasty about the sainted Princess Di. And in talking about fellow Assembly Rooms performer Michael Barrymore he pushes his point with the phrase ‘arse-rape… to death’ which becomes funny by its constant, juvenile repetition – strangely unlike his Arnie bit.

Burns is more playful that his reputation for fierce, objectionable comedy suggests, and much of the show, marketed with a collection of negative adjectives from previous reviews, should be taken in the frivolous spirit it’s intended. But there’s no ironic defence to the fact he’s charging up to £16 to hear some fairly routine club material.

He deserved his triumph last year, but in comedy you’re only as good as your last show, and Burns has lost ground with this one. Hopefully it’s just a pause to regroup after an extraordinary 12 months, and he’ll be back with fresh ambitions next year.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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