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Dr Brown Behaves - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

I could never recommend people turn up to a show late; but let’s just say the first 20 minutes or so of the surreal Dr Brown’s show is tedious, execrable tripe.

A purveyor of agonisingly awkward anti-comedy he wordlessly and deliberately sets up the show, fiddling clumsily with CD Walkman and the curtain at the back of the room before playing a futile game of Guess Who with himself, and reading extracts from Princess magazine, whose target demographic is six-year-old girls.

Amid nervous half-chuckles and embarrassing shoe-gazing, he tries to get a reluctant audience to indulge in some pitiful call-and-response. But no one wants to be there, let alone join in.

Heckles inevitably follow – and are much funnier than his act, which seems to comprise only him defiantly holding his poise despite a palpable lack of material. Yes, it’s original (to a point), but it could just be that there’s a damn good reason why few comics play ‘dare’ with the audience in this way.

Yet just when the show appears a write-off, he somehow turns it around. A silly visual gag with a banana gets the chuckles going, which some stilted improv with a punter plucked from the audience builds upon. The Good Doctor also occasionally lets his humourless mask slip, letting us see the real person inside, and, against all odds, the good times roll.

The climax involves potential humiliation of a punter, which is always the cheapest of laughs, but whether by luck of judgment, Brown chooses a remarkably game bloke, who submits to things on stage the more reserved among us never would – and the spirit is much more good-natured Generation Game than malicious Balls Of Steel. If I were reviewing audience members, ‘Steve’ would get five stars. But I’m not.

Review date: 15 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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