Skip to content


Tom Deacon: Can I Be Honest?
Published on Thursday, 25 August 2011

3 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
3-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27 Aug, 8:20pm-9:20pm
Reviewed by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

The small truths of everyday life seem a promising topic for a Fringe show. I attended Can I Be Honest? expecting that a little honesty would work wonders after a couple of weeks of the relentless melodrama of the Royal Mile – and Tom Deacon’s comedy credentials promised a fresh and quirky choice.

The show opens with the usual self-effacing references to appearance, which we’ve come to expect and enjoy from lesser-known acts. It’s a nice way to endear. Audience banter then ensues, and feels a little too generic, but we learn Deacon’s not the worst at putting on a regional accent. The rest of the show explores topics which he feels he should come clean about – loosely connected to anecdotes concerning a recently failed relationship, some posh flatmates and getting that all-important five a day.

Deacon – a familiar voice from Radio 1 – is a youthful, and sometimes slightly naïve performer.  He fights his way through a jumble of topics, from gentle confessions about his hair product, through blunt observations about man-noises, to slightly filthier territory.  He tends to pursue a tangent. There’s nothing wrong with this – it’s often the golden ticket during a set, but frustratingly he doesn’t have enough control over his point to pull it off.  And that also highlights the fact he doesn’t yet have quite enough presence, either.

This said, he is energetic, down-to-earth and genuine. It’s engaging that he’s feeling his way into a few discoveries we can all relate to in a very immediate way, or can look back at with a smile. His playful forays in the direction of chauvinism would have been far more fun if it weren’t for the lacklustre back-pedalling immediately after. Perhaps I missed a point: but if he’s going for an edgier atmosphere, he needs to allow his silences a little more space and pull back on the equivocal noises which punctuate his style.

I still want to see more of Tom Deacon; he’s a fun performer, he’s charming and he resonates with the audience when he touches on simpler observations. His treatment of the London riots, for example, worked well, particularly his interpretation of a Scottish reaction to them (though his Scots impersonation seems based on Begbie from Trainspotting, it’s hilarious to hear it bellow from his waifish frame).

Much of Can I be Honest? feels indecisive, a little distracted and underdeveloped – ironic, given the direct question it asks. Older audience members or seasoned Fringe attendees, in all honesty, will probably want to feel more satisfied with the answers given.  But the Radio 1 demographic will love his quirky presence, and won’t be looking for anything more than the immediate fun on offer.

<< Waiting For Alice   Chasing Dragons >>