Simon David: Dead Dad Show | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Simon David: Dead Dad Show

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Every year, it seems that hundreds of comedians come to Edinburgh with one noble purpose. To monetise their parent’s death to boost their career.

Well, Simon David has consolidated various comedy shows about such grief – a topic that was once so bold, but now considered so passé – into one greatest-hits package. He’s created several versions of the format so dismissively labelled as ‘the dead dad show’ to explore the father-son relationship and to mock some familiar showbusiness tropes.

First, we learn that there’s something about Simey as he offers a glittery musical about how he always wanted to wear a skirt but was never accepted by his intolerant Northern da. The jaunty parody also speaks to camp David’s burning ambitions to become a fabulous star, garlanded with awards, the envy of others. That’s why he’s showcasing so many genres here… to impress the judges. (And it has worked with David scooping an Amused Moose trophy this week)

The TikToks about grief are hilariously close to the vacuous truth while at the other end of the scale, The Normal Hole wallows in the sombre, gritty 1980s gay dramas under the shadow of Aids. 

His fake Netflix stand-up special – Uncensored, Untriggered, Unnecessary – takes a few deserved pot-shots at the ‘won’t be silenced brigade’ – while the interpretive dance section gets very graphic, and entirely unsuitable for the 12-year-old in tonight's audience who cries out for it to end. That probably only encourages David to draw out the moment, to everyone else’s delight – even the lad’s dad. Most shows are 16+ for a reason. 

For his final trick, David tries one more device. Sincerity. 

In a revelation seeded along the way, it turns out David’s real dad made a one-man show of his own when he knew he was dying, just performed in his local community hall, but a gentle, cordial reflection on a life he knew was coming to an end. 

His son sharing some of this with a broader audience here at the Fringe makes for a tender, heartfelt tribute. Wouldn’t you know it, the much-mocked ‘serious bit’ of dead dad shows proves affecting yet again.

Not that David would end on such an earnest downer. Showmanship is his love language, and he sends us out into the night with another banger in our ears, as well as the sentimentality in our hearts.

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Review date: 24 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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