Damian Clark: Extra Show | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Damian Clark: Extra Show

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

Damian Clark isn't the first male comic to have his life turned upside-down by the arrival of a baby.

But the lively, Dublin-based Australian gives one of the best and most self-damning depictions of a floundering attempt to cope. Previously indifferent to the charms of newborns, he capably conveys his obliviousness with expressive physical act-outs, with strangers dashing through traffic in order to show him how to properly support the baby's head.

Elsewhere, he very much empathises with an infant's constant state of disruption, wonderfully evoking the terror of being lulled to sleep, only to then find yourself in a car seat suddenly being shot down the motorway.

Instinctively silly, Clark acknowledges that while other Fringe performers have been doing their classically trained warm-up exercises, he's been practising fart choruses, seeking advice on whether inhaling or exhaling on the raspberry is funnier at any given point. He retains some cynicism though, as he bemoans the substitution of his actual friends for a milieu of fellow parents. And his relationship with his wife is nicely sketched in a running gag on the mispronunciation of her name.

He's particularly funny and inventive in despair, his subterranean flat prompting an analysis of Edinburgh's multi-level cityscape that's like Dante's seven terraces of purgatory. Enjoyably, unsentimentally critical of other parents, his own ineptitude doesn't prevent him from picking myriad faults in what others are doing. Indeed, tossing hypothetical babies around like rugby balls, he's about as lacking in mawkishness with the whole endeavour as it's possible to be, never in danger of alienating the non-breeders in the room.

The show is split into two halves, Clark's fatherhood experiences and an ill-conceived trip he took to Bristol with fellow comic Willa White when his wife was pregnant. Hoping to surprise his beloved with a car at Christmas to drive her to the labour ward, the favourable exchange rate saw him and White identify a couple of bargain motors for sale across the English Channel. Using a little white lie that he was gigging in Northern Island, he set off to bring the four wheels home.

Suffice to say, events don't exactly unfold as intended, with his sob story and garrulous cheek failing to arouse the sympathy of Her Majesty's police. With the baby due any day and his mobile phone confiscated, he frets about being absent from the birth of his firstborn.

Unfortunately, while motorway hurtling with police cars in pursuit and uneven banter with unsmiling detectives plays to Clark's energy and sense of mischief, the observational material of being banged up in a police cell for an unspecified number of hours really doesn't, and his tale loses momentum around the 40-minute mark. 

Still, there's an amusing coda. And it shouldn't detract too greatly from what's an animated, sporadically hilarious portrait of a sleep-deprived man on the edge, clumsily trying to do his best for his family.

Review date: 25 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon

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