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Simon Donald Dirty Great Fringepiece

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

Viz co-creator Simon Donald returns to the Fringe with a show closely modelled on last year's format of character comedy plus reminiscences about his cult comic's heyday.

Donald has been performing since 2008 and says he has never looked back, given that the feedback from Viz was never as immediate as it is in live comedy. By the end of the show you wonder if he might take this assertion back, as he has endured a poor gig and he knows it.

Going from page to stage means more than having a list of rude words and phrases and dropping them, er, willy-nilly, across some very old-school and two-dimensional characterisations including the reprised Jeremy Jitler (Mr Logic meets stand-up), market researcher Barry Twyford and Bingo, another cerebrally-challenged joker.

Gratuity on the page has to be amplified but while projection is important in live performance too, the subtle use of language, even naughty words, is key to milking the humour out of them. Funny names or talking about testicles in various forms is not enough in itself and having two characters parody stand-up is a corner-cut.

Of equal importance is the ability to relax with your own material and acting capabilities. Donald is nervous throughout and there is a lack of conviction that hampers his material. In someone else's hands the re-working of mother-in-law and racist jokes to apply to ginger people, might have stood more of a chance.

At one point Donald refers to the show as ‘a work in progress’ which, with last year under his belt, can only really be true in the sense that a comic is always learning and shows are always evolving. The question is whether you get to a point where you know there's nothing you can learn that will make you any better – or indeed if you enjoy it enough to take on new information and instincts.

Given his contribution to comedy I can't see Donald giving up in a hurry but it would be wise for him to draw inspiration from characters whose definition goes deeper than those he previously nailed in pen and ink.

Review date: 9 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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