Pros: Lots of laughs and lots of surprises in this show. Burns is a strangely likeable guy.
Cons: There is a lot of close to the bone material that may offend (and I think that is the point). A little too prescriptive for stand up and the climax of the show is a bit obvious.
According to Brendon Burns, there are five reasons you have never heard of him. He structures the show around a slide presentation of these five points and so it’s difficult to discuss the show without reference to at least a few of them. The thrust of the humour is around disabilities and our politically correct reactions to them. As you can imagine then, the gags run close to the bone at times, edging near and perhaps crossing the line that Burns says he never quite knows the location of. This is not an Adam Hills style of humour; it’s a lot less refined and feels a little brutal. I think that is the point, you laugh because you are surprised and shocked and, “funny is funny, right?”
Firstly, Burns shouts and swears a lot. However he is also articulate and the humour around the reasons why he is loud and his disability card (he is partially deaf) is highly entertaining. This was the part of the show I enjoyed the most, Burns really has the audience going from the first minutes of the show with his first-hand experiences and self deprecating style.
The format, by Burns’ own admission, crams a lot of ideas into sixty minutes. He jumps from anecdote to gag, interjecting with bits on wrestling, racism and middle class sensibilities as well as disabilities, so you never quite know where you are. I liked this aspect of the show as it keeps the audience buoyant and certainly kept my attention, as I had to keep up with the punchy delivery.
Another reason you have never heard of him: he is crap on TV. Burns commentates as we watch a VT of him discussing humour around disabilities on a mainstream daytime program. It’s hilarious, cringe worthy and fantastic material as he makes a real mess of it – Burns has taken a really low moment in time and turned it into a bit of comic genius. Replaying his less than finest hour almost frame by frame, sentence by sentence, previewing every moment with what he should have said, had me crying with laughter.
I won’t go through the rest of the reasons why you have never heard of Brendon Burns, but I will say that one of them is that he makes reference to previous shows and I found the mention of seemingly irrelevant people and places a bit annoying. There was a rather lengthy extract read from a book and I think the audience lulled at this point, as the laughs were fewer and quieter. Yes, it is comedy and it is funny and there is a lot going on, but I didn’t really like the slideshow format as it felt very prescriptive, as though the entire show is predetermined from the off. Of course it is, I know, but unlike other stand-up that just flows and gives the impression its all on the hoof, I could see where it was going and there were a few tells along the way that made the surprises less surprising. All said, it’s a funny show, Burns is a clever guy with a masterful comic plan and if you want to be a part of it, see the show and get the t shirt.
Author: Brendon Burns
Producer: Mick Perrin Worldwide
Booking until: 13 July 2014
Box office: 020 7478 0100
Booking link: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/brendon-burns-hasnt-heard-of-you-either/