Edinburgh Fringe Review: Darren Harriott, Pleasance Courtyard

There has been a lot of talk about the lack of working class voices in Edinburgh this year - Chris McGlade has been particularly vocal about it. But actually working class voices have fared better than they have for a while in 2017. Sophie Willan and Darren Harriott – neither from privileged backgrounds – both picked up lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations, for Best Show and Best Newcomer respectively and there was also Suzi Ruffell talking about her working class roots. This review below first appeared in the Evening Standard here.

If you are going to talk about your life it helps if you have a compelling back story. Darren Harriott has hinterland with knobs on. His Rastafarian father was a drug dealer who committed suicide in prison: “My family tree is a cannabis plant,” he chuckles in his breakthrough debut show, Defiant.

Harriott, 28, is passionate, articulate, witty and bursting with streetwise confidence. He is from Oldbury in the West Midlands but lives in a London houseshare. His flatmate upstairs is nicknamed North Korea because “he doesn’t trust anyone south of him.”

This powerful yet accessible set covers a range of topics from the personal, frequently touching on the history of mental illness among his relatives, to the political. This former bouncer is happy to be contrary. He was not keen on Obama, he voted Remain yet now embraces Brexit – he is a patriot who thinks Britain has the strength of character to triumph over anything.

But then Harriott’s own tale is very much one of victory against the odds. When the lastminute.com Best Newcomer Award is handed out in Edinburgh he might add another triumph to his CV.

Darren Harriott: Defiant, is at Pleasance Courtyard until August 27. Tickets here.

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