News: Buxton Comes To London

Adam Buxton

Let the sky be black with hats, Adam Buxton is bringing his acclaimed Kernel Panic show to the West End for two nights in April - 21 & 22 - at the Duchess Theatre. I've seen Adam Buxton a few times over the years but I got slightly obsessed with him after seeing his storming set at Latitude last summer. When Kernel Panic was announced I got the impression it would be a very different show to his previous multi-media, YouTube-fixated shows and his pop video Bug shows. I was worried he might even be succumbing to the lure of straighforward stand-up. But to my huge relief his Union Chapel gigs last September were pretty much the Latitude set with added lunacy. It is easy to knock Buxton and say all he does is read out other people's YouTube comments, but nobody who has actually seen him would ever say that. To paraphrase Frank Carson, it really is the way he frames them. He also does a mean David Bowie impression. Below is my review of Buxton which first ran in The Evening Standard

The relationship between the internet and live comedy is a precarious one.

While some worry that home surfing might kill gigs, Adam Buxton has wholeheartedly embraced the web. He has built up a devoted cult following with his clip-based Bug nights and now, in Kernel Panic, live laptop humour truly comes of age.

Some of the funniest moments in this consistently entertaining evening erupt when Buxton, a bearded mix of playful professor and nutty nerd, reads out petty comments left below YouTube videos. One could argue that others have done the writing but the skill is in the way “Dr Buckles” edits and then recounts these exchanges with exquisite timing, conveying the colossal futility of a heated spat over the merits of Grizzly Bear or Brian Eno.

Buxton excels at this inspired brand of puerile wit. When he delivers a pithy putdown, multiple images of him singing “in your face” dance onto the large screen behind him. The set meshes the simply daft to the technologically deft most successfully when Brad Pitt’s pretentious perfume adverts are improved by a scatological animated makeover.

Children’s stories, Kraftwerk and Buxton’s own failings compared with his friend Joe Cornish's blossoming film career are all mercilessly mocked. The night’s highlights involve his hero David Bowie, or “Zavid Bowie” as he is rechristened. A series of sublime gags affectionately send up the recent Mercury Award nominee, peaking with a reboot of the Where Are We Now? promo featuring Buxton gazing adoringly at his idol. Oscar Wilde said “each man kills the thing he loves”. Dr Buckles just plants himself hilariously in their videos.

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