Bart Freebairn In A Breathtakingly Magic Journey Into The Ordinary

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

There are more auspicious starts to comedy shows. A druid-wizard playing soporific chords as a Japanese Fortune Cat stares out at the audience … well, it’s hardly high-octane stuff.

But it sets the mood for Bart Freebairn’s underplayed style: a still, calm surface which conceals some fine comedy nuggets. The Lego-haired comic holds the admittedly very tiny stage with poise and confidence, while his writing can sparkle.

His comedy is based on observation-led storytelling, but with a surreal bent well-suited to the enchanted theme of this show. Lizard men, existential popcorn and an astronaut’s air penis all make appearances, though the bizarre imagery always comes with some justification – they are not just random thoughts strung together in attempt to be oh-so weird.

Magic is the topic of the day, Hogwarts and all, although Freebairn’s definition of the term is flexible enough to cover love, religion and nutters on the train. Anyone would think he chose a topic that just about any stand-up routine could be adapted to fit…

But going off-piste is rarely a problem. He has the grace to make even dick jokes elegant, though he is over-reliant on this innate ability when it comes to shore up his long section on pornography, which is the weakest segment of the show – as he’s so much better than this.

Though he quietly charms his way though some near-the-knuckle gags, the show is far stronger when his stylishly whimiscal manner works in concert with material that’s slightly off-centre. His mature writing can also be quietly touching, without being saccharine, as ably demonstrated by his impressive closing section reminiscing about his late grandfather, which is as richly satisfying as it is warmly funny.

Freebairn is a master at acting out the little scenarios that arise in his stand-up, subtly bringing these mini-sketches to life without over-egging the pudding, contributing to an hour that’ fluent, funny and unforced. While he’s not quite magical, the thoroughly engaging Freebairn will have you quietly entertained for more than a short spell.

Review date: 31 Mar 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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