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David Trent: This Is All I Have

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

David Trent’s return to the Fringe is as full of reckless bluster as his debut; with more manically mashed-up video content, apoplectic rage against the trivial and forceful desperation to impress.

He gets off to a blistering start. After a short but satirically brutal recut of John Bishop’s televised set, reducing it to empty, feel-good affirmation, Trent launches an unforgiving rant against vacuous marketing nonsense, thanks to a genuine campaign that Dawn Porter fronted for Andrex.

In what sounds likes one of Chris Morris’s more implausible wind-ups, she became the face of arse-wiping in a spectacularly unsuccessful online campaign for moist toilet paper involving ‘real’ people, which Trent tears apart with ruthless, relentless and downright hilarious forensic scrutiny. And if all this marketing claptrap got his goat, wait till he gets to a certain disingenuously filthy sounding soft drink and the smug, privileged tossers who launched it...

Unfortunately, Trent can’t maintain the pace or intensity of the sublime opening third of the show – who could? – and he finds himself on more common ground discussing angry TV chefs, gangsta rap and taking signs literally, which has been the basis for many a quotidian stand-up. He elevates it by his anger, by his videos, and the occasional curveball, but it’s a bit of a comedown.

This is also where we learn a little about his own story; having quit his teaching job at 41, he’s desperate to make his career in comedy work. The gamble means his house, and possibly marriage, rests on this show working out for him, externalised in the frustrations he so furiously vents at the world – similar comic territory to Nick Helm, granted, but still well-executed.

Despite leaving his job, Trent still comes across as an educator at heart, keen to explain exactly why modern life is rubbish, with the aid of his creative visual presentation. His detached dissection of hip-hop lyrics almost makes him sound like a modern-day Joyce Grenfell, and even when some of the righteous ire fades, Trent still has some strong ideas.

This ‘difficult second album’ of a show might be all he has to earn a crust these days, but at his full-on best, Trent is hilarious. In a just world, splenetic anger should pay his mortgage.

Review date: 3 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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