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Brendon Burns: Y'know Love n God n Metaphysics n Shit

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Brendon Burns normally likes to try something a little different in his Edinburgh shows – and this year he’s employed comedy pub rocker Dave Eastgate to drowsily strum guitar as a backing track to his stand-up. It adds some elegance to the performance, but I think it’s something of a mistake. First, because the musical rhythm is fighting against the inherent pace and timing of the jokes. Comedy needs to explode on the punchline, but the music provides a more constant cadence, so reducing the impact of the gags. And since when has Burns’s comedy been about elegance – at least outwardly? Raw, no-holds-barred passion is what he does best, not drawing-room chit-chat. Second is that with a second Australian on stage, Burns has a habit of playing to Eastgate, not the room, as if he’s showing off to his mate. The encourage each other incorrigibly, and bark with laughter at each others in-jokes. In their mind it’s even funnier, in fact, if the audience doesn’t get the gag; and therefore worth repeating all the more. It leads to a certain sloppiness as the gig hobbles into action, with the few lines that flop being overplayed, while some pointedly insulting ideas about nationalism get a bit jumbled. Mind you, if it’s insulting you want, the message comes through loud and clear when Burns uncompromisingly lays into screeching Scottish women or invokes the most offensive imagry for homophobic Christians with his typical bile. But there’s a feeling this section isn’t quite finished. There are some great – sometimes wildly provocative – lines in there, but it’s rough around the edges and a little self-indulgent. But slowly a strong show starts to take shape, firstly through describing a relationship, second through some thoughtfully opinionated treatise. Even though he’s built his reputation on being contrary, Burns’s take on the current fad for paedophile jokes from young comics deluding themselves that’s all it takes to be Chris Morris is nicely unexpected. And he similarly goes slightly against the grain when it comes to atheism – although acknowledging all religion is inherently false is still taken as a given. If the show struggled to start, there’s no such confusion about the ending. Burns has repeatedly proved he knows how to build to a climax, and this year is no exception with a tender payoff, where even Eastgate’s guitar fulfils a valuable purpose. He pulls victory from the jaws of slapdashery to produce not his finest ever show, but still a damn good one.

Review date: 10 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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