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David Mills is Smart Casual: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

David Mills is an odd cove. He’s a stand-up comedian without many jokes, and a raconteur without many anecdotes. Yet he has an ever-present attitude of arch, sarcastic detachment that can hold an audience rapt.

But the key word is ‘can’. There are considerable chunks of his debut hour where he seems to simply be in conversation, without the distilled wit or insightful vision than would elevate it to a fully-fledged show.

Then just when you think he’s just blethering, he’ll unlock an oblique train of thought or a pithy, waspish gag that draws you right back in again.

The monologue is delivered mostly from a bar stool, with the meter and entitled authority of an Edwardian wag holding court in an elegant cocktail bar. All that’s missing is a cigarette in a flamboyantly long holder – damn the smoking ban.

Smartly turned-out and with elegant posture, he offers a more mature persona than the acerbic old bitch he occasionally thinks himself to be. Though in honesty, a few more flashes of his vicious claws would add a welcome  edge of savagery; instead he prefers to bat languidly at the tiresome subjects of his routines.

Celebrities are, naturally, a rich source of targets, but he also finds space to sneer on such touchy subjects as Muslims, the homeless, the Paralympics and dictatorships. Sometimes he’s courting controversy for the sake of it, sometimes he nails a fresh perspective.

There is food for thought, for example, on the gay rights agenda, and how it has moved from demanding the right to be different to the right to be normal; while he also offers his own theory on the difference between the British and American psyche, born from the perspective of being a Yank in London.

He’s not afraid to flip the mood, too. A story about an orgy ends with a poignantly sad image, made vivid by his engrossing storytelling talents.

Smart Casual is an inconsistent debut, then, but a distinctive one, introducing a devilishly charming character who needs a sharper edge to his writing.

Review date: 4 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Alternative Fringe @ The Hive

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