James Dowdeswell: No More Mr Nice Guy

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

I hate to thwart James Dowdeswell’s ambitions, but this, his fourth solo show is, well, nice. It’s nicely written, nicely performed, nicely funny.

He is a relaxed and eminently affable comedian, and indeed man. The apex of his anger is to tut loudly. But, infuriated by an attempted mugging by 12-year-olds at a South London swimming pool, he becomes determined to show a tougher side.

This engaging routine then sets of with examples of bad behaviour he’s encountered as he struggles with modern urban life. He tells his anecdotes well, charmingly illustrated with mini-impressions of all the characters. He may not be streetwise, but he can do the accent.

He covers his brief appearance as Count Fuckula in Extras – it doesn’t quite fit the narrative, but Dowdeswell’s eloquent enough to cover such cracks – before focussing on his own strange schooldays, in which he had to ‘black up’ for the school play.

It’s here a slightly darker, more poignant strand enters the monologue, adding a different note to proceedings. Dowdeswell neither overplays nor underplays the seriousness of the story, which provides him with his satisfying payoff, but tells it straight and compellingly.

But ultimately, he can’t shake the Mr Nice Guy image. He does manage to be rude to someone, but it’s Mohammed Fayed, who, frankly, deserves anything coming his way – and who probably didn’t even get the message anyway. Neither is the inherent drama of his school story quite enough allow him to make the break from effortlessly enjoyable storytelling stand-up to comedy heavyweight.

Reviewed by Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

Today's comedy-on demand picks


This is the show that celebrated the launch of Nick Helm's album in 2016, and has previously been unseen by anyone who was not in the O2 Forum Kentish Town that night.

With typical hyperbole, the show is described thusly: 'Under-rehearsed, under-prepared and under pressure, Nick and his band somehow managed to pull together the greatest show in the last 27 years of living memory. That show went down as a thing of legend, often spoken about by weary travellers around campfires, but thought to have been lost to the sands of time forever.'

Click for more suggestions

... including Al Murray headlining a Just For Tonic gig and the launch of Free Festival's virtual comedy programming.

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.