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Bob Downe ... Smokin'
Published on Saturday, 25 August 2012
3

3 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
Comedy
1-13, 15-22, 24-26 Aug, 8:00pm-9:00pm
Reviewed by Anne Stirling

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Bob Downe, that flamboyant Australian who was in his prime in the nineties, returns for his sixteenth Edinburgh Fringe – bringing his infamously colourful tailored suits, a modernised blonde wig a la Justin Beiber and One Direction (his confessed inspiration for the new ’do), and some up-to-date jokes.  His loveable charm was ever-present, and his audience seemed to lap it up.

Downe prances onto the stage singing Abba's Does Your Mother Know, toothy smile and eyes a-bulging. It's fun at first, and the kind of gregariousness we have come to expect from Downe, but over the course of the show his over-the-top antics are over-done and become mundane. What follows is a series of jokes interspersed with disco anthems and the occasional CD giveaway.  His effort to make his material fresh was appreciated, with references to the Olympics as well as more local topical humour, but the show as a whole still felt dated and repetitive.

Mind you, I wouldn't go to Bob Downe's show expecting anything more than his old schtick. And he ought to be commended for his stamina. The man is 53 years old (a fact he is not ashamed to share with his audience) and still throws himself about the stage, belting out power ballads like a true diva. He is coquettish with his volunteers, who are delighted that he casts a pearly-white grin their way with an accompanying wink.

He had his crowd clapping in time happily to every song, so the show clearly worked for his target audience. And his musical choices were fun. But they were predictable too, and his camp dancing brought nothing new to the table.  Other than some effective use of lighting (scant praise for a comedy routine), the show felt a bit too old rope for me.

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