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David Longley: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall

My Favourite Things is comedian David Longley’s take on cognitive dissonance, the state of juggling two different impulses. If that sounds too much for an afternoon comedy show, don’t worry, it all kicks off with an animation.

Animated is, incidentally, something that Longley is not. This Derby lad has a very measured demeanour that feels competent and comfortable without ever being fully engaging, so it always seems like he has an extra level to go. Nevertheless, Longley imposes a steady discipline on this hour to get him through material that could arguably have spawned two or more shows.

He kicks off with defining cognitive dissonance. Wikipedia cites those who like to smoke but know it will kill them. Longley focuses on being in love, but being bored in a relationship. From this he sounds out his audience on what they might constitute as cheating. Text sex? A lap dance? Oral sex? The audience quickly establish that they have boundaries and Longley makes it clear that he doesn’t. Well, he’s the comedian, after all.

With the occasional recourse to PowerPoint, Longley traces mental dislocation between perception and reality through his excitable child, then his ‘idiot’ parents, his racist Indian friend and then finally his grandfather, a man free of regrets because he has apparently done nothing with his life. With the latter example, a key moment of cognitive dissonance comes when Longley divorces the pain of knowing that Alzheimer’s is killing his grandfather with an appropriately (or inappropriately, depending on your tastes) titled disco track.

The closing sequence on his grandfather could be almost be another show, in fact the previous sequence about his Indian friend is rich enough to stand alone too. This is a testimony to the content, of course, so it’s curious as to why the show doesn’t gel more.

You can’t say that Longley hasn’t delivered an interesting theme and he’s given some great examples to show his working. However, he’s left the conclusion in the hands of his most emotive anecdote and a short film that tries to tie the Loose Ends up is no substitute for him asserting his prevailing view.

Because of his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s, Longley extols the importance of taking photographs. Conversely though, if the comic ditched most of his visual aids (though not the opening animation –that’s a winner) he’d be forced to engage more with his audience and maybe allow this show to make more of a deserved impression.

Review date: 5 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Stand 2

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