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Daniel Simonsen: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Like many of the newer generation of comics, Daniel Simonsen is a nervous, socially retarded misfit, uncomfortable in his own skin.

But unlike many of his peer group, this is only how he acts offstage; on it, he is a odd but assured presence, describing his social faux pas with a quirky, dry wit with a steady eye on the punchlines.

The eccentric tone of the show is set from the beginning, where the traditional offstage announcement takes on a surreal life of its own. Once he emerges into the spotlight, he seems defiantly proud of his shy awkwardness, as if that’s the only reasonable reaction to having to encounter other people.

Simonsen has supported Simon Amstell on tour, and they share a similarly pessimistic, fretful world view.  ‘It’s just really difficult to be a human being, you know?’ he says at one point in his Norwegian accent, the tiny cracks in his English working well with his position as slightly alien to normal people.

His humiliation often comes from screwing up the smallest things in life, such as saying hello, goodbye or even his own name. You might wonder how he even functions, yet tacitly understand the panic that led him into these extreme situations.

Other times, the embarrassment is heaped upon him, as he describes the indignity of flyering for a dentist while dressed as a giant tooth or the awkwardness of being confronted by a naked, pre-pubescent cousin that plunges the audience into territory as uncomfortable as Simonsen’s entire life seems to be.

This is all set around some vague story about a search for his father that took him to Chile and back to Norway, which might once have formed a structural spine to the show, but is now largely abandoned, remnant clinging messily on to the ungimmicky observational comedy that he convincingly delivers.

Despite all this, he doesn’t quite have the killer routines to make the show soar into the truly memorable, and there are a couple of mid-show lulls. But he demonstrates both an assuredness and a distinctiveness of voice that sets high expectations for the future.

Review date: 15 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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