He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's Daniel Cook | Review by Steve Bennett
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He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's Daniel Cook

Review by Steve Bennett

‘The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be’ said Ralph Waldo Emerson, thus securing him a place on a million Facebook walls. Now that inspirational quote is at the heart of Daniel Cook’s quietly charming new show, too.

What manner of man is he? he asks of himself after starring in yet another cheesy commercial. He’s got the sort of features that combine puppy-dog vulnerability with dumb clowning that puts him in demand from advertising agencies across Europe when they’re seeking a comic foil. He’s got the stills to prove it. But is being a glorified Crunchy Nut Cornflake salesman really his calling?

So he decided to volunteer with the refugees landing on the Greek island of Lesbos, to give his life meaning. Many a comic would have built a full hour on this, but for Cook it’s maybe a 15-minute routine, mocking the people he met, from the pashmina-clad posh girls who Instragram misery, or the aura-seeing hippies. It could almost be any gap-year travelogue.

While I’d like to have heard more about the experience, maybe it was a good call not to get bogged down in politics or other Very Important Stuff, for the show certainly works well on its own terms of amiable, slightly silly, stand-up.

Cook has a very distinctive, actorly style. Slow and steady build-ups, rich with pauses, build up a vivid picture, his wide eyes anticipating what to come. Then the reaction, a bit camp and very melodramatic.

The performance gives a leg-up to some sections that need it - there wouldn’t really be much to his complaints about London pretension or observations about Shatterproof rulers without the special delivery – or strengthens more robust, more quirky routines, such as the one about the ‘skip this ad’ countdown on YouTube.

But when he’s talking first hand, the material moves up to match the style as he describes his peculiarities. He’s the sort of man who calls sex ‘rumpy-pumps’ and gets given a tape-measure as a childhood birthday gift, Meanwhile, his description of the ideas the ad men have him act out highlights how preposterous that business is.

A lot of the strands are tied together neatly, and while there’s nothing in this show to shatter your world; it’s a gentle, stylish pleasure to watch him work.

Review date: 16 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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