Dan Wright – Edinburgh Festival review

This show about one man’s Michael Jackson obsession isn’t bad, but nor is it a thriller

Dan_Wright1The stereotype of Michael Jackson fans is that they’re obsessive to the exclusion of everything else, and Dan Wright isn’t going to change that with this show, but he has been somewhat successful in turning that obsession into an entertaining show. He’s so at home on stage that, for a relatively new comic, there’s not a trace of nerves or awkwardness and the crowd feels safe in his hands.

We are moonwalked through the story of Wright’s Jackson obsession from childhood to present day, which withstood the hits to Jackson’s popularity. As a boy he impersonated Jackson onstage (with remarkable accuracy, according to the video he shows), and as a man he once sabotaged a date due to anti-Jacko sentiment emitting from his dinner partner.

Wright isn’t so much a gagsmith as a mini-storyteller, and few more hard jokes would elevate what is an enjoyable show to a raucous one. He is a natural performer, and this combined with a fine way with an anecdote see him to the end. There are nice routines on playground politics and what it’s really like down the front of a Jackson concert.

But just as Jackson’s child molestation trial swamped his life and reputation, so does it start to dominate this show. The media’s one-eyed reportage is also closely examined. These are far, far harder subjects to turn into comedy than one’s school years, and more experienced comics than Wright would struggle to achieve that. These more earnest sections of the show are peppered with jokes, but the tone gradually becomes one of soapbox not comedy show. Wright is clearly still too close to the subject, and his robust defence of Jackson feels like an ambush.

It doesn’t veer out of control though, as Wright just about keeps the focus on how he reacted to the trial’s verdict and Jackson’s death – his period of mourning, how it affected his relationship. Some more objective inspection of this might have been more interesting than being relayed details of Jackson’s defence evidence.

It’s a genuinely interesting and entertaining show, but Wright probably bit off more than he could chew for a debut show.

3 stars

Dan Wright – Michael Jackson Touched Me is on at 9.30pm at the Gilded Balloon
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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