As my memories of the shows I saw fade into the dim half light of ‘I was in Edinburgh, wasn’t I?’ I’ll call this the last of my Fringe reviews for this year. Any more and I’d not be doing justice to the good stuff I saw as the buzz of entertainment or thought or feeling they left me with loses it’s gilt edge. But I’m finishing on a simple one which doesn’t take too much to do it justice I hope.
Dave Callan, an Irish comedian who’s apparently big in Australia but whom I’d never heard of until I was told ‘we’re going to see Dave Callan tonight’, has put together a grand Festival experience. Built around the idea of an A-Z (or rather Z to A) of dance styles it’s an exhausting enough show to watch never mind to perform so every laugh feels truly earned – and there are a lot of them. For an hour or so you can enjoy a sweaty middle aged bloke dance his way through the alphabet with a enthusiastic fervour which beats my entire lifetime reserve of energeticness by about 300%. Backed by four incredibly talented young dancers it’s a joke that could easily have worn thin after the first couple of dancing styles (and he covers an awful lot of them) but for the fact that it’s just so well done.
Rather than stretch out the obvious point of not being a professional dancer for comic effect Dave has, by the look of things, actually put a lot of effort into being good enough to make the bits where he looks bad funny. An impressive amount of work which really shines through as the whole thing never slips away from his control as he mixes brief shots of talk with manic interludes. So even as he twerks like he’s stuck in a Dulux paint mixer you can’t help but be impressed by the timing and skill rather than just laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Although with that said I was still laughing for the duration even with the applause at the end being as much for the craft of it as the entertainment. A definite hallmark of a quality show.
It also goes to show just how obvious a really skilled comic is when compared to those who aren’t. I did see shows, which I’m not bothered to review, where the comedy was built on chancing it more than anything. Individuals who may (or may not) have been funny had taken that basic level of talent and run with it, rather than building it into something that really bosses an audience and makes sure they’re with you every step of the way. Which is pretty much the dividing line between a decent evening and one which you can be bothered to sit down the next week and write about with the remnants of a smile on your face and some genuine enthusiasm for it.
There’s not much more to add really, I managed to get a half price ticket for his Fringe show but I’m guessing he’ll be touring somewhere sooner or later so keep an eye out for him. Plus it’d be no surprise to see him pop up on the usual array of panel shows, as he apparently already does in Australia which is almost a shame really. Not for him of course, because you can’t beat that pay day, but it’s never nice to see someone who can put together a show like that end up sat next to Jimmy Carr trying to force a laugh at that talentless gobshite’s latest stolen joke. But now he’s dancing carefree with those happy feet of his and well worth the effort to catch him.
You can follow Dave Callan on Twitter @DaveCallanWit.