Edinburgh Fringe Review: Dan Antopolski, Assembly George Square

When you’ve been seeing comedy shows back to back for over a week themes and subjects start to emerge and knit together. I left Kiri Pritchard-McLean’s show in which she touches on her recent break up (and Sara Pascoe was in the audience - her show is also about her split) and walked into Dan Antopolski’s show, which had a big chunk about his break up.

Antopolski hasn’t done Edinburgh since 2013 and has always been a bit of a compulsive joker in the pack, a lover of language who finds punchlines where others don't even think of looking. But this show marks a change of tone. The stupid/intelligent humour is still there but there is also a lot more depth, particularly when he talks about the death of his mother and having to clear her house out - the second time he had done that in a year after his own family home had closed for business.

The tone is uneven at times, but maybe that’s a reflection of the emotional rollercoaster ride Antopolski has been through in recent years. While the break-up was going on he also had to protect two small children from the fallout. Not an easy thing to do - who can blame him for sitting around all day in his pyjamas watching TV and eating junk food?

The Return of the Dan Antopolski is not always comfortable viewing. He says things are amicable with his ex now, but when he refers to the "corrosive hostility" of something as harmless as the way she would eat an apple during the relationship’s death throes you wonder if maybe there is still a scab to be picked at despite the therapy and the “I’m fine, I’m now in love with someone new” sidebar.

Elsewhere there’s a running gag about Jimmy Savile that sits slightly uneasily between the jollity and the heartbreak and also makes you waonder what is true and what isn't. But this is a small criticism, albeit the kind that bumps the star rating down from four to three (there’s a glimpse behind the critics’s magic curtain for you).

Another scheduling coincidence is that his show is in the same room as Hannah Gadsby’s emotionally draining Nanette, another monologue that is as serious as it is funny. The phrase you don’t know whether to laugh or cry comes to mind when I think of Antopolski's show. Mostly I laughed, because Dan is damn funny, but towards the end you might get something in your eye too. 

Dan Antopolski: Return of the Dan Antopolski, Assembly George Square Studios until august 27. Tickets here.

Read an interview with Dan Antopolski here.



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