Dan Nightingale – Edinburgh Festival review

A nice idea wonderfully executed, that’s Dan Nightingale’s show this year …


Deadlines are dreadful. Especially when they come about six months before you actually have to do what you say you’ll do. But this year Dan Nightingale has turned this to his advantage and brought not just one show, but 11 (and a half) (ideas for) shows which he could have submitted for the Fringe deadline, but ultimately didn’t. In his own words, it’s one show of all the pieces of shit.

Presenting us with a poster and a potted version of each, aided by amazing visual transitions from a truly sensational Powerpoint display, Nightingale takes us on a whirlwind tour of all the routines that might have been (but weren’t). From the anecdotal to the bantertastic, from traumatic summer jobs of the past to the disaffected flatshare life of the present, he picks apart each ill-conceived idea, and himself in the process.

What it is of course is quite a canny way to do some standard stand-up self-reflection with a bit of a critique about the comedy circuit on the side. There’s the banter based show, the one-line gag show, the young man with hair and T-shirt show – all shows he might have done, but couldn’t. This framework also allows him to hop around fairly hackneyed topics such as ageing without falling into a rut (helped of course by his ability to spin a good yarn). It’s a clever enough concept to set it apart from other acts, but it’s not so high concept that it loses itself in the self-congratulatory meta-sphere.

With his lilting Lancastrian accent and self-effacing style, Nightingale is an immensely likeable stage presence. He does himself down perhaps more than he needs to, but he plays it off to good effect. It begins a little hesitantly – and the end felt a little rushed as we hurtled to squeeze in the final few (and a half). But this is a fun show to watch, patchwork as it may be, and is decidedly different from what you might find elsewhere on the stand-up stage.

4 stars

Dan Nightingale is on at 6.50pm at the Pleasance Dome
Review written by Sarah Sharp

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