Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Like Scott Capurro, Brendon Burns sets out this year to challenge preconceptions and black/white reasoning (hence his poster design) in the most forthright way. By pointing his big Aussie mouth at anything that heaves into view, he plays loudly and bluntly yet still amiably with our notions of liberalism, conservatism, and our urge always to pigeonhole views. Around halfway through his set on the night I saw him, he noticed an inconsistency in our laugh response to a couple of his "bits" and sardonically remarked, "I do find it interesting that you have more comedic sympathy for Charles Manson than for people allergic to nuts." That's Burns all over: pathologically incapable of turning his exuberance control below a 12, but sharp as a well-honed tack with it.

He is particularly acute on the tendency of the "right-on" to appropriate for themselves the righteousness of victim groups, and on taking the mick out of both our conditioned responses as a comedy audience and his own as a performer; less so in occasional bilious throwaway remarks about students and critics, which constitute the kind of generalisations he spends the rest of the hour rightly deploring. His comedy is serious, but he can never resist poking away even at himself for long enough to let it ever descend into earnestness, the lovable great hoon.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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