Brendon Burns Hasn't Heard of You Either | Review by Steve Bennett
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Brendon Burns Hasn't Heard of You Either

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

There was a time, a simpler time, when winning the Perrier award could catapult a comedian into the big time. It’s been six years since Brendon Burns won its immediate successor, the clumsily titled if.comedy award, which might have increased his industry kudos, but has failed to make him a household name.

It’s this which he plays on in Brendon Burns Hasn't Heard of You Either. In previous Fringes he has made a running joke about the fact his fame is so low-level that he knows by name a large portion of the audience, and that idea’s not only repeated, but magnified by several factors here.

The backhanded compliment of being a comedians’ comedian is also examined, with some provocative jibes at the sort of act who doesn’t entertain actual punters, just the handful of other comedians at the back or the room, or the sort of comedy nerds who idolise Stewart Lee. Those die-hard anoraks get a bit of grief, too. The backlash to stand-ups who pander to their audience’s pretensions about ‘understanding’ comedy starts here. The irony, of course, is that this section’s funnier if you falls into that camp,too.

Burns has always been self-analytical on stage, and he’s come up with five reasons why his fanbase is so niche, including the fact that he’s too shouty for many people’s tastes. He recently found out why that is: he has had very limited hearing almost all his life, and only after getting a hearing aid did he realise the volume at which he’s been hollering.

His condition gives this show’s title a double meaning but also earned him a disabled person’s railcard. Which a perennial mischief-maker like Burns treats as a ‘get out of jail free’ card to include material of dubious ethics in his show. But the reprehensible story he recounts of visiting Las Vegas with fellow comic Barry Castagnola, who pretended to be mentally challenged, is pretty indefensible, whichever way you look at it.

That some people find him offensive is another reason Burns cites for his modest success. We’ve been here before, of course, with his show So I Suppose THIS Is Offensive Now. But before wiseguys like me point it out, another reason on Burns’s list of things holding him back is that he makes callbacks to previous shows – a fact which proves pivotal to the impact of this one. Although newcomers are not alienated, and will be surprised by what they witness, it really does help if you’ve watched his shows before.

Another key reason Burns quotes for his level of fame/obscurity is that ‘I suck on TV’, and after seeing a cringe-inducing appearance on ITV1’s Daybreak, when he made a pigs’ ear of defending Ricky Gervais’s ‘mong’ tweets, you would be hard-pressed to disagree. We spend quite a chunk of the show looking at a TV screen rather than what’s on stage, but the result is, ultimately, worth it.

That’s true of several segments throughout the hour, which seem amusing enough at the time, but have different significance in retrospect. It is a hour of Burns doing what he does best, a familiar landscape for his fans but also showing he’s not a comic who’s lost his ability to surprise.

Review date: 18 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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