Drew Michael: Drew's Adventures | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Drew Michael: Drew's Adventures

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

During Drew Michael’s heavy-going show, the old line comes to mind: ‘I have suffered for my art. Now it’s your turn.’ For the American comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer puts his audience through the wringer so they can experience just a soupçon of the challenges and alienation he has faced - but he’s sadly not thought to reward them with jokes.

He starts soundly enough, with a pseudo-Seinfeldian stand-up routine about being left hanging for a text from a girl he likes. However, the mic is set to have a tinny echo, giving it a very offputting robotic timbre. It seems like an irritating tech error, but it soon transpires this is a show about Michael’s hearing loss, so now seems relevant.

For most of the hour, we have to don headphones, sometimes receiving what he’s saying, sometimes his inner monologue, and sometimes replicating the sounds in the dull, muted, virtually incomprehensible way he hears the world. It’s a clever device - but far more effort has gone into sound design than creating an entertaining script.

Recreating a row between his parents in unexciting detail – triggered by his playing of the TV too loud – sets up the grimly self-pitying navelgazing, complaining about why he can’t get a girlfriend, wallowing in self-hatred and depression, wondering if he’s ever destined for a settled relationship since he believes he needs conflict to thrive.

Plenty of comics talk about such dark inner topics with humour, but not Michael; it’s relentlessly grim here. The idea this is supposed to be a comedy show seems to have escaped him after that opening routine and he doesn’t even try to make light of any of this. He’s averse to happiness – not just his own, it seems, but his audience’s.

We have no sympathy for him, nor does he solicit. When he tells us he punched a co-worker in the face and called him a ‘little bitch’ - very little further context given - is it supposed to be excused because he’s sad and can’t hear very well? 

And when he spits out a nasty segment about why audiences don’t like him because he’s too deep and complicated it feels like the last, straw. It’s a mean, ungrateful snarl against punters who can only take his misery when it’s packaged into pithy, entertaining morsels. The idea that we might want entertaining because we’ve paid for his services as an entertainer, his alleged trade, eludes him. Sure, it’s the self-loathing talking, but it leaves a very bitter taste.

It turns out he could have done something about his deafness years ago, but pride or vanity meant he never got a hearing aid until recently. Instead, he has spent the best part of two decades muddling through and masking his disability. The bitter irony is that by not trying to let his hearing loss define him, it absolutely did. 

There’s obviously an ambition in Drew’s Adventures (which he’s also calling Here) to do something different, to let the audience into not only Michael’s way of experiencing the world, but also into his mind. Unfortunately, it’s not really a place you’d want to spend much time. My sympathies that he has no choice in the matter, but as a Fringe punter, you do.

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Review date: 8 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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