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James Dowdeswell: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Dave Hampson

James Dowdeswell starts his show in this almost criminally empty room with the announcement that he knows the exact demographic of tonight’s attendees. ‘Six of you paid, two of you are fellow comics who got in for nothing on your passes, my girlfriend and a reviewer.’ We are all treated to a personal high five as he jokes that we should all move seats during the show just to give him and us a bit of variety. This is an excellent reaction to what is, to be honest, a bloody nightmare of a situation for a comic with the experience, skill and talent of Dowdeswell.

This does not put him off too much, although having gags aimed so directly and personally could put an amateur off, he keeps going with a stoic and very well deserved sense of confidence. We are here; he is here. We’ve got an hour in each other’s company. Let’s have as much if not more fun than if the room was rammed with punters who may not really be James’ type.

His material is top drawer. Stories and vignettes varying from the sanitising and subsequent middle class banality of increasingly commercialised music festivals and his experiences growing up as the son of a pub landlord and lady. It is here he shows a deft hand at mimicry and character comedy when he impersonates some of the pub regulars in the made-up village of Inbredbury just outside Bristol. He uses hats and accents and some nicely thought out lighting effects to vary the tone of the hour nicely.

Then the show moves on to his experiences since moving to London involving muggings and other general unpleasantness. Some of this material is along a well worn track with so many comics having moved to the big smoke to pursue their careers, but it is still very funny, if somewhat recognisable.

The musical finale is a rap which again demonstrates his wide array of entertaining skills and is both funny and obviously the result of some hard work put in before he arrived at the Fringe.

Review date: 18 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Dave Hampson
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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