Will Duggan: Iceberg | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
review star review star review star review half star review blank star

Will Duggan: Iceberg

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Will Duggan is constantly beset by simmering anger – but you wouldn’t appreciate the fury he's capable of from his gentle, opening reflections about names, prompted by talking about how he grew up with a different one.

The comedian was a classic beta male at school, with even his supremacy in the chess club dependent on some pretty specific circumstances. His rage is generally of the impotent kind – as everyone's is, to an extent, given that the multiple horrors facing the world are too much to confront and the compromises of democracy ensuring no one can ever be fully happy.

On to this, you can add the intrinsically British tendency to bat back enquiries about your well-being with instinctive, hollow affirmation, lest deeper feelings are discussed or stiff upper lips wobble. Feelings will be no use in the coming dystopia envisioned by another of his middle-aged mates, quietly going rogue and becoming full-on apocalypse prepper.

While Duggan's fiancée blows off steam watching true crime documentaries, inspiring some bleak, funny observations about what their relationship could escalate to in a worst-case scenario, the comic suppresses his sorrows in drink, sharing dark humour at funerals and in his grossly exaggerated sporting achievements.

No fuss, no problem, all fine, just fine, coping, even as his underlying far-right looks and apparent hate speech sympathies – as far as the casting agents can tell – conspire to lose him a lucrative acting job. He's fully on board with the comedy industry's belated attempt at greater diversity, although he stands to lose out, but his satirical swipe at this movement questions its sincerity somewhat.

However, with as causal a gear shift as he can conceivably muster, at a certain point he takes the show in a different direction, opening up about a taboo subject with genuine sincerity, the magnitude of it expressed clearly, the primary motive for his rage revealed.

Maybe too fearful of the destabilising emotional impact of this, he reverses into triviality as quickly as possible. But it feels like miscalculated overcompensation, wary of  the cliché of a sad bit at the 40-minute mark, when perhaps he should have dwelt longer.

As Duggan acknowledges at the end, anger can be a creative fuel. And perhaps he could have allowed himself to indulge it more freely. But it's a hugely difficult thing he's processing, and talking about it in stand-up is more-or-less unprecedented, so you can appreciate the dilemma.

Will Duggan: Iceberg is on at the Pleasance Courtyard at 5.25pm

Review date: 21 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.