Dave Hill: Caveman in a Spaceship | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Dave Hill: Caveman in a Spaceship

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

With mild pyrotechnics, elemental effects and physical threat to one of the seating banks, Dave Hill makes quite the return to the Fringe after 13 years away.

Shredding hard with his electric guitar, high-kicking awkwardly in his jumpsuit, this ironic rock god knows how to make an entrance. And a disclaimer. There might well be health repercussions to this spectacle for the audience.

Blowing hard and sweating profusely, still recovering from his exertions after a short but intense opening number, he takes requests, obliging with a snatch of Led Zeppelin. The American then recalls showing off his licks at a Guitar Center, getting right up in the grill of a child. And it's hard to banish the spectre of Wayne's World, as this middle-aged, arrested adolescent swaggers like he's the coolest axeman to emerge from Cleveland, Ohio.

He's got plans to open a nightclub with an edgy name but there's no side or subtext, he'll clamp down on the fun and rule with an iron fist. He's aiming to take over the Poundland marketing account, with a series of brutally honest straplines, the humour emerging from the sense of rock bottom being found in increasingly inventive but degrading ways and the sheer, bludgeoning number of ideas for the brief he's had.

As with his crowd work, when wit fails him, Hill amusingly, disproportionately, lashes out and simply fires off a petulant expletive. People who hold their phone in a certain way can fuck right off. And he closes with the tale of how he lost his cool and belatedly got into his first fist-fight, the kudos this gained him with his girlfriend's family sending out all the wrong messages about violence solving nothing.

Otherwise, he's a romantic at heart, his chivalry old-fashioned and finicality expedient when it comes to pursuing a lady. With considerable build-up, he shares his sure-fire chat-up lines, guaranteed to always work in Edinburgh if nowhere else, a nicely executed pastiche of the touring act's propensity to try to ingratiate with superficial acknowledgement of local landmarks. Regardless, Hill seems to have genuine affection for this city and its nooks, crannies and quirks, and the warmth is reciprocated.

There's no denying that his guitar is the classic six-string applause-eliciting machine, his playing a genuine talent that augments Hill's corny posturing and more low-key, low-energy personal tales. He's got a great, understated anecdote about his teenage job transporting test eyeballs to laser eye surgeons, the visual imagery striking as he reflects upon being the ultimate weirdo in a slaughterhouse full of customers buying their meat direct, fantasising about the inexplicable horror for any police officers who might have stopped him.

Also compelling, and inspired by his sulky teenager harrumphing at having to join his observant father at Catholic Church whenever he returns home, he reimagines the water-into-wine parable as Jesus livening up a house party, casually performing miracles but ultimately flouncing off because of picky modern tastes and petty sniping.

There are the occasional lulls and longueurs to Caveman In A Spaceship's more anti-comedy elements, with the longer routines more often winding than punchy, though Hill's departing of the stage is almost as chaotic as his entrance and you certainly appreciate the buffoonish energy and commitment.

Throughout, he straddles the line between naff and awesome with such affable ease, even when he's feigning belligerence, tapping into the same unlikely rock strutting as kindred spirits such as Flight Of The Conchords and David O'Doherty. Great to have him back.

Review date: 27 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: The Stand's New Town Theatre

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