4th - 27th August
When you find yourself in the front row of an intimate comedy club, your cramped legs within kicking distance of the mic stand, there are two certainties:
- You’re going to be picked on by the comedian.
- You’re going to need to pee – badly.
As it turns out, I was wrong, for one of these certainties proved to be anything but.
Struggling to Evolve promises ‘a guide to sex, drink and violence’ – which sounds like prime material for an edgy comedian seeking to unsettle his audience. David Whitney may talk like a chubby English comic, and he may sweat like one too, but the jokes appear harder to come by however. Where’s the risque humour? Where’s the licentiousness? As it turns out, nothing about Whitney adds up: he’s not edgy and he’s not English either, as he confesses at the very outset. When the plummy-voiced Englishman takes to the stage playing bagpipes and then admits to having been born in the same Scottish locale as this reviewer, I’m forced to reassess the situation. Pleasing as it would be to insert a quip about all Aberdonians being born comedians, the truth is, Whitney’s not that funny. Not at first, anyway. There’s some Russell Brand-type shtick and a few good one-liners in there, but it’s barely LOL material, let alone the stuff that ROFL-copters are made of.
If this is the best we can expect from Whitney, Houston we have a problem: this could be an interminable hour. As if sensing the collective ennui, however, the comedian finds a third gear, and then a fourth and then we’re flying, with dick jokes being liberally tossed at the audience and vajazzle quips tripping off the tongue. They’re good, too. David Whitney doesn’t do bog-standard knob jokes. His are so good, you’d tell them to your own mother. By the time Whitney has finished likening sex to McDonald’s, Microsoft Windows and a bunch of other incongruous objects, his work is done, and the Scotsman masquerading as an Englishman can pick up his bagpipes and leave the stage.
When he’s on form, Whitney is a pleasure to watch, and yet it’s hard to escape the feeling that there’s something missing from his comedy. A sense of urgency. A sense of danger. A sense that anything could happen. Front row and I didn’t get picked on once. I did need to pee though – badly. Six million years of human evolution and we’re still struggling to evolve a bladder that can hold more than a pint of lager. There’s a David Whitney show in there somewhere – complete with a barrel-load of gags about fapping and ball-bags – because Whitney doesn’t need to engage with his audience; he already knows what they want. Us upright apes do love a good dick joke.
Since our last attempt at a rating system (scoring video games out of 79) was such a raging success, we’ve decided to adopt an entirely new system for the Fringe: each show’s rating will be represented as a shooped reaction face. Of a cat. Because…well, just because. We’ve got an entire folder of this cat’s RFs, and it seems only right to put them to good use, helping people make an informed decision about the merits of each show. Let kitty be your guide, cos that’s as close to a rating system as you’re gonna get.