Edinburgh Fringe Review: David Trent

david trent

Pleasance Dome

****

It's that tricky second show syndrome that all acts who are good enough to get some acclaim for their debut Edinburgh set go through, David Trent picked up a Best Newcomer nomination for his dynamic first full-length mix of shouting, anti-coorporate video splicing and self-pitying gags last year. So how do you follow that? With more shouting, anti-corporate video splicing and self-pitying gags.

Trent has now given up his teaching job so there is a lot riding on This Is All I Have. Like another ex-teacher on the Fringe, Romesh Ranganathan, he goes for the "like my show or the children get it" angle. But Trent doesn't need to worry. While this is not a major development on his debut it is really clever, really well put together and most of all, really funny.

If there is a fault it is that some of Trent's targets are a little fish-in-a-barrel-shaped. A series of rapid-fire cuts of John Bishop in action highlight the vacuousness of mainstream TV stand-up in general and the Liverpudlian in particular. I suspect Trent has no particular axe to grind against Bishop, it just makes a good comedy sequence. In fact throughout the show it is the video element that adds the real sucker punch. In the same way that a physical comedian like Lee Evans adds a visual payoff to the verbal one, Trent adds an extra digital kick to each riff.

There is further and greater satirical intent with his take-down of Dawn O'Porter being the face of an adult bottom-wiping product. The subject matter alone makes this instantly funny, but Trent builds and builds the comedy, shuttling between increasingly absurd vox pops and focus groups onscreen and his own incisive slam dunk of O'Porter and the marketing of useless products we don't need.

But as these two examples show, there is a formula to Trent's rage and after a while the joins begin to show. Later in his hour he mounts a similar attack on the soft drink Pussy – he is not the first comedian by a long way to comment on the thinking behind their ad campaign, but the cocktail of video footage and vitriol does add bite to his stance.

The trouble with Trent – his chum Nick Helm has a similar issue but probably tackles is better – is that if you start with the dial turned up to 11 where do you go? i guess the answer is 12. This Is All I Have builds to a sustained attack on a certain sock-wearing rock band and ends with various strands being pulled tight and our rabid social commentator virtually foaming at the mouth. If it isn't a significant advance on last year's show that's simply because last year's show set such a high benchmark for multi-media comedy. Trent is his own tough act to follow.

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