David Elms: Mister Boy | Review by Steve Bennett
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David Elms: Mister Boy

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Steve Bennett

David Elms may be a guitar-carrying comic, but his style is less wannabe-rock-god than tender acoustic singer-songwriter. ‘Go easy on me,’ he weakly implores the crowd at the start of his show, proving it’s not for nothing that a disproportionate number of reviews of his debut last year called him ‘mild-mannered’.

Well, he not going to get ’uncompromising’, as he believes that’s no way to get through life, which probably means words like ‘lovely’ and ‘charming’ will be deployed instead.

Though he plays the lowest of status, his stillness suggests a lot more control than that. And it’s clear there’s intelligence, as well as a romantic heart, to his show, with its clever use of themes, or lack thereof, and subtle framework. Jokes are similarly deceiving, as he leads us gently down one path, only to change direction subtly when you’re not expecting it.

He takes deconstruction to extremes, too, particularly over the common South African phrase ‘a Monkey’s wedding’ to describe a sunshower – the phenomenon of rain from a cloudless sky – and getting two audience members to act out that very scene, the ‘groom’ not quite understanding what’s expected of him. This works well, but there’s a bit too much participation in this show (and let’s face it, at the festival as a whole), where laughs are wrought from volunteers awkwardly acting out a scenario to the comedian’s instructions.

This is not really Elms’s forte, though it works fine. Where he really excels is with the perfectly executed musical jokes, such as the unconventional lullaby, that pepper the set. No cheap parodies, these interludes all work on their own terms, the melodic strumming and Elms’s demurely angelic voice an integral part of the package.

At its best, Mister Boy is quietly joyful, as it pays tribute to the wife he married eight months ago and the decisions that brought them together. And it would take a hard heart not to be gladdened by that.

Review date: 27 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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