David Longley – Edinburgh Festival review

Contrarian David Longley squeezes laughs out of life’s darkest places

Dave_Longley1Dave Longley must have the most misleading promo material at this year’s Fringe – the smiley cartoon face, the “My Favourite Things” title – if you happen to reach the blurb, you get an easily missed hint that this isn’t gonna be Mr Chuckles’ Animal Whimsy Hour. “It’ll be like a late-night show in the afternoon,” it says.

So it takes a bit of time to tune into My Favourite Things. It may be deliberate as Longley seems to enjoy being provocative and challenging his audience. His stand-up is pretty hard-edged and this show’s theme is cognitive dissonance. He questions the boundaries of infidelity and ponders the consequences of infinite space, his father’s homophobia, his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s and his mundane marriage. There is a lot of material on racism and a memorably dark slide show for the show’s finale. Maybe for Longley the contrarian, his least favourite things happen to be his favourite things.

He flits between the harsh realities of life and philosophical musings, making light of it all, without ever really losing anyone long the way (which is just as well as there are only about 10 of us here). He’s also a chatty bugger, happy to engage in conversation with his audience (at one point he asks a couple on the front row whether they thought oral sex constituted cheating). He’s not the most slick or expressive performer either, so at times it feels like a seminar.

There are some fabulous moments of comedy though, enough to jog things along and leave us in no doubt this is a comedy show. His forays into PowerPoint aren’t of the same standard – a slideshow that puns on shakes and Sheikhs could be taken out completely, and he displays a text message conversation he has with his racist Indian friend, which is a bit of a lazy shortcut.

This is dense, dark stuff. This is far from middle-class stand-up that massages middle-class sensibilities. Longley admits during the show that he is considering quitting stand-up, which would be a shame as judging by My Favourite Things he’s a smart, interesting voice in comedy who’s able to squeeze laughs from the blackest of places.

3.5 stars

David Longley: My Favourite Things is on at the Stand II at 4.40pm
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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