Review: Brendon Burns, Soho Theatre

Brendon Burns

It’s wryly amusing that early on in Brendon Burns’ latest show he has a pop at the notion of comedians’ comedians and Stewart Lee – “he invented the pause”. Because Burns is a bit of a comedians’ comedian himself. He is sharp, clever and in Brendon Burns: Hasn’t Heard Of You Either he is almost as entertainingly meta for the in-joke crowd as Stewart Lee himself.

One of the recurring themes floating about in this energetic, noisy hour is the fact that the Aussie stand-up is not that famous. After a pithy pre-amble about celebrity and the perils of having your picture snapped in public that has an echo of observations David Baddiel and Frank Skinner have also made recently, Burns spends much of the show counting down the reasons why he is not that famous.

These reasons are a typical Burns-ian mix of the jokey, the self-mocking and the smarty pants clever. The show's title, for instance, has a double meaning. On the one hand it refers to the 2007 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner’s lack of household name notoriety, on the other it refers to the fact that he recently found out thatb he has been hard of hearing since childhood – which explains why he has always been such a shouty comedian.

Burns also demonstrates that maybe he is not quite cut out for mainstream consumption by airing a clip of his galumphingly gobby appearance on ITV1’s Daybreak during the Ricky Gervais “Mong-Gate” kerfuffle. Burns is usually very articulate, but under the glare of the cameras he is reduced to spewing out meaningless phrases and showing off his childish Jesus-pose T-shirt.

Elsewhere he suggests that maybe his fondness for pushing things too far may have held him back in terms of global domination. He illustrates this with a reading from his book, Fear of Hat Loss in Las Vegas, where he recalls a trip to a casino with his chum Barry Castagnola, who decides to fake disability. Cue major awkwardness.

This is the section that gets to the heart of Burns’ show. He is utterly fixated on the notion of what we find offensive. In fact he won that award with a show about that very subject and he craftily harks back to that landmark performance here. As he says himself, he is rather partial to callbacks to previous shows (very comedian's comedian), so if you haven’t seen Burns before you may not get all of the gags. But you will still get enough to have a really good, really thought-provoking night out. And next time you see him you will probably get him even more.

Brendon Burns: Hasn't Heard Of You Either is at Soho Theatre until July 13. Tickets here.


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