Markus Birdman: Sympathy For The Devil

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Markus Birdman seems to be picking up where last year’s Edinburgh show, Son Of A Preacher Man, left off with this companion piece, Sympathy For The Devil.

Not that he’s got any such sympathy, he’s repeatedly keen to assure us. He’s an atheist, not a Satanist.

But he does indulge in sinful behaviour: swearing, drinking to excess, taking drugs, buying porn; and that’s what he’s talking about here. The problem is, it’s also what the vast majority of other comics on God’s earth also talk about. Add a bit of material knocking evangelical creationists, and a few pot-shots at Biblical stories, and you have the topics list from the Stand-Up For Dummies guidebook.

It’s not that Birdman doesn’t do it well – he’s an engagingly cheeky performer who knows how to structure a show – it’s just that his limited outlook for subject too often leads him down the same path so many others have trod. Examples are the checkout girl loudly asking for a price check on the embarrassing item he brought,straightforward Michael Barrymore jokes and gags such as ‘Bipolar? I thought that was a sexually confused bear’ to name but a few. He even includes material about Germans putting their towels down on the beach early, which Stan Boardman might want back.

The show is largely stripped of the personal element that raised last year’s offering, as he has obviously exploited that to the full. Instead, Birdman dresses his material up with some wider philosophising: Who am I to preach to my child when I’m not blameless is one theme, and that it’s better to regret what you have done that what you haven’t is another.

There are some good moments here: an entertaining story about getting drunk with some Iraqi midgets, and a couple of good lines about communion wafers and why God must be a man. But it’s slim pickings in a show that has all the hallmarks of a 20-minute club set, combined with a bit of compering-like banter at the top and a lot of padding to fill the hour.

Maybe the Devil doesn’t have all the best gags after all.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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