David Quirk: Astonishing Obscurity | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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David Quirk: Astonishing Obscurity

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

David Quirk’s insistence that his story is truthful, already anticipating our disbelief, promises an intriguing hour, while a dramatic lip-sync performance of Do Me Baby by Prince promises a spectacular one. 

Only a few moments later, the Australian’s humour quickly shifts from enthusiasm to self-deprecation, ominously warning there are no refunds. His character takes on a sympathetic nature, eliciting laughter and groans as he explains how his name became a verb for ‘giving up’. 

Quirk’s tale draws the audience in piece by piece, first exploring his disillusionment with comedy, from which he took a break. Then he reveals his strange hang-up on Russell Jackson – a name to remember. Jackson is a sports journalist who wrote about Quirk’s brother fading into ‘astonishing obscurity’ in his Aussie rules football career, inspiring the title of this show. 

The stand-up’s outrage at the article gives way to outright stalking as he takes the audience on a hilarious journey of bad decisions and growing obsession. Quirk truly has a one-track mind when it comes to Jackson, delighting and shocking his audience with the extent to which he took his desire to confront him. 

His darkly comic creative writing piece was a highlight of the show, as he imagined a scenario where he would meet the writer – beginning in a poetic, almost romantic, setting, before jumping to extreme action, involving heroin and sneak attacks. 

The chronological story of obsession is interspersed with thoughtful comedy. Quirk considers the duality of being offended by Jackson but also in awe of, and spurred on by, his writing. Other jokes, including a particular comment on his recent skin cancer and vitamin D deficiency, highlight his ability to laugh at his misfortune. 

The wild ride ends in an almost disappointingly tame conclusion. Meeting Jackson was not the fiery confrontation the audience came to expect, but rather, a more honest and human interaction. 

In some ways, it was a fitting end, exposing the futility of Quirk’s fixation. In the end, the comic questions if he came back to comedy because of his love for it, or simply so as not to fade into the ‘astonishing obscurity’ that Jackson attributed to Quirk’s brother. Whatever the reason, we should be glad to see him back on the comedy scene.  

Review date: 21 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Kashmini Shah
Reviewed at: Stand 3 and 4

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