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Desiree Burch: This is Evolution

I’m going to share with you a fantasy I had forgotten about until the other night. It’s fifties New York or maybe downtown Los Angeles. I slip into an exclusive little club and watch the latest hot-ticket doing this new hip happening called stand-up comedy. It could be Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Richard Pryor. All I know is I’m there and I’m loving it. I pretty much had that experience the other night. Did I take a time machine? No – all I did was go along to the Blundabus and saw Desiree Burch in her show This is Evolution.

I love the top deck of the Blundabus as a venue. It’s a wonderfully intimate space which lends the perfect atmosphere to performances that are all about confessions and being frank (the amazing Luca Cupani taking this to the Catholic confessional extreme in the very same venue). Of course wonderfully intimate can also mean totally embarrassing if the audience ain’t buying it. Glad to say the audience were all on board (I promised myself I wouldn’t use that pun… ) with Desiree’s set.

As a woman the themes – including macho cat-calling; being a fag-hag; the culture shock  quality of going out with an older man (‘waking up in a bed that’s not Ikea’); the pressure for women to shave ‘down there’  – resonated with me. But that’s not to say you have to be a women to appreciate the solid-gold material. Men in the audience were getting it and loving it too. There’s also stuff about being a black American women but Desiree never distances herself as if to say ‘you wouldn’t understand… ‘

Actually that’s the main big beautiful theme of the show – you don’t have to do what’s expected of you; you can be dealt a poor hand at birth but you can rise above it. Desiree speaks from experience – she’s spent a fortune on self-help guides. But instead of a tacked-on uplifting finale filched from one of those guides she does a very clever analogy about electrons behaving differently when they’re not being watched. If that sounds horribly scientific – go with it – it’s boldly and brilliantly original.

Okay, the material is great. But what really makes the show fly is the performance. Desiree has a marvelous physical presence which is both commanding and warm; and she uses the limited space to perfection – for example doing an uncanny impression of a trotting pony or thumping the roof of the bus to punctuate a point. Her delivery is rapid and assured leaving you exhilarated rather than exhausted.

I’m so glad I saw Desiree on the Blundabus but then I’d be glad to see her anywhere. This woman has talent and star quality to spare so intimate venues may soon be a thing of the past.Take the opportunity to see her this way while you can.

(Review for 18 Aug)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/desiree-burch-this-is-evolution

Desiree Burch: This is Evolution

 

Funny Guys

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Thursday, 8th August

Funniest day of the Fringe yet with two five star shows. Started the day seeing the Alan Partridge film – classic British humour – was expecting a lot and wasn’t disappointed. Was a bit worried that any comedy seen later that day wouldn’t be up to the same standard but such thoughts were blown away with the first show: Toby Explains the Universe (Free Fringe at The Dram House, venue 299, 3pm)

Toby Muresianu is American Jewish, LA based, part of the Facebook generation – in the literal sense as he was a classmate of Mark Zuckerberg, former software engineer, app designer, atheist, vegetarian. All these topics and more inform his material which is sharp, insightful and intelligent – reminds me a bit of classic Woody Allen with that style of drawing you in on the personal and mundane and ending up talking about the Universe and the meaning of life. Clue is in the title of the show, I guess… His delivery is refreshingly laid-back with quiet confidence which is a nice change from the in-yer-face brashness that many stand-ups feel they have to employ to grab your attention. Imagine an updated Groucho Marx or a Jackie Mason with better diction. Another thing I like is despite having impeccable geek credentials he doesn’t take the easy route of ‘laugh at me cos I’m a nerd’ school of comedy a la Big Bang Theory or ‘let’s laugh at everyone else’ a la Infinite Monkey Cage (god help us!). And you have to admit the guy has balls when he lays into inept rich kids who dabble in the arts (‘I’m a photographer. No, I think you just have a camera…’) when that kind of person will more than likely be sitting in your audience. Toby also comperes the Free Samples show every day at Whistlebinkies at 11am where you can catch part of his act but either way do yourself a favour and see this guy before he becomes huge.

Talking of Whistlebinkies moved on to the New York All-Star Comedy Hour there at 4pm. Closing act was Alex Edelman – definitely the stand-out.  Again American Jewish but in the more animated style, talking about serving in the Israeli army and working at the KFC in ‘the dirtiest train station in New York’. Plenty of good material there and a nice line in self-deprecating humour – pointing out that his latest designer haircut makes him look like Anne Hathaway, not sure which came first – the joke or the cut, good visual joke at any rate. Definitely worth checking out his main show.

Day of comedy was going so well, could it get any better? Well, astonishingly, it did! Went to see David MillsThe Gospel Truth at Heroes @ the Hive (5.30pm). The venue is yet another sticky-floored nook of the whole Cowgate underground network resurrected from olden times to house present day entertainment whilst cleverly managing to maintain that filthy, urine and beer sodden historical detail – lovely! Mr Mills starts by making reference to said surroundings – ‘Breathe it in, breathe it in…’ And what follows is just under an hour of deliciously waspish, bitchy and just ever so slightly camp humour. The image is sharp-suited, clean-cut, American evangelist but the comedy is full blooded drag-queen with added depth. Topics included why does David Bowie keep on bothering us with his latest artistic endeavours, the intricacies of how Elton John and David Furnish ‘fathered’ their children and the problems of employing political correctness when you’re part of a trans-sexual, trans-gender, inter-species three-way marriage!! As is usual with a Fringe show in the afternoon the audience is smallish but that works well in this case as intimacy is the key with the front row just inches away from the host, perching early Dave Allen style on a stool. Everyone comes in for a bit of light ribbing leading in with topics like Scottish independence (launching into a hilarious routine about a messy, expensive divorce with Wales as a layabout child) and when it’s generally time to stop and take a good long look at what our lives have become.(‘De-clutter, de-clutter’) OK we’re maybe getting a bit deep here but like with all great comedy there is that edge of pathos which draws you in before delivering the sucker-punch. This man is solid gold and I can’t urge you strongly enough to go and see him. And I know the phrase: ‘Go and see him before…’ is getting a bit shop worn but it couldn’t be more apt in this case as I’m pretty sure David Mills would just not be the same in (mercy!) a stadium gig or on TV.

Still early, got a bite to eat and swithered about seeing some sceptics show with flying ectoplasm at The Southsider but decided day couldn’t be topped. Will check out said show at later date. Enjoyed pint of Carlsberg at £2.95 – bargain!

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