Dan Soder: Son Of A Gary | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Dan Soder: Son Of A Gary

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

In HBO’s Billions, Dan Soder plays the super-rich financial trader Dudley Mafee – but his real life is a lot more gritty than that, as reflected in his dark-edged comedy.

Hailing from Colorado, he describes himself as ’20 per cent white trash’ with an absent, alcoholic father and depressive thoughts. Daddy issues provide a recurring theme, from masculine role models to why sex is better with damaged people.

Perhaps because of that background, Soder clearly has self-destructive tendencies. But he’s more than aware enough to try to combat them – and to be able to talk about them with a resigned honesty through his comedy. He genuinely sees the funny side – and this is not a ‘laughing through the pain’ type of show, more a ‘what an idiot I am’ one. And probably more cathartic for it.

When looking for external topics to discuss, Soder tries to seek a path less trodden. He certainly shies away from being the sort of comedian who complains about everything – especially as he sees entitled grumbling as a curse of modern life. Screaming babies on planes? He doesn’t much mind that. Hair in restaurant food? It’s only natural.

That said, he’s still cynical - he just channels it in different directions, including back at himself.

A few subjects are a little more familiar: overdoing the cannabis edibles or remembering the days of dial-up, when porn would only gradually reveal itself at 56kb/s. However, his solution to this not only provides an anecdote of acute embarrassment but also provides a heartwarming family insight.

Feeling shame is not entirely alien to him now, at the ripe old age of 36, with a great story about his actions were misinterpreted by a devout Muslim family that causes him to wince as he tells it.

Tonight’s gig is a subdued affair with a ‘book club energy’, which Soder can’t help but acknowledge. However, he’s as confident, determined and professional as any cliché of an American comedian would have you believe, and he chips away at the resistance with an unflagging gag rate. 

His patient persistence pays off, and he gradually lures the audience into the half-light of his world, where they are rewarded with some elegant comedy about an inelegant life.

Review date: 22 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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