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Daniel Simonsen - Champions
Published on Friday, 24 August 2012
4

4 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
Comedy
1-12, 14-19, 21-27 Aug, 7:00pm-8:00pm
Reviewed by Martin Lennon

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

The 'trouble' with Scandinavians’ grasp of English is that they normally speak it better than natives do. But can this translate into comedy? The truth is that Daniel Simonsen would be funny in any language, but the reason why his stand-up is so special to an Edinburgh audience is that he is on the outside looking in – and he has the ability to make observations that help us understand ourselves better.

Now living in London, Simonsen is originally from Bergen in Norway, and got his big break in the UK when he won So You Think You're Funny. His show is anything but conventional, blending in a diverse array of stories which include dancing sober, travels to Chile and sick cats. Beneath this lies a brand of storytelling and physical comedy that make you feel like he has been doing stand-up for over twenty years.

The way he summarises our daily struggles with everyday mannerisms makes him an outstanding comedian. He asks simple questions like, "have you ever said hello too early" – something a lot of us can relate to and are guilty of. His inner critic is a voice that we all have, but few people can make it as funny as Simonsen does. Partly it's to do with his accent (which sounds, somehow, inherently amusing), but paradoxically it's also the Britishness of his humour, illustrated with his sarcastic and dry way of storytelling. He spices it up with voices of different characters, macho and cool, turning banal lines into something hilarious because of his fake uber-masculine accent. Even surreal one liners like, "it's difficult to make a cat laugh," were met with universal laughter from around the room.

A large part of Simonsen’s act is defined by his shy, aloof, and anxious character. At moments during the gig you could really see the nerves overtaking him – for example when he kept looking at his watch towards the end. Some jokes also failed to impress, for example one joke about reverse paedophilia just didn't seem to suit him, or the mood of the gig. And while his delivery was perfect, you couldn’t help but feeling that the silliness of his voice work had a lot to do with making people laugh rather than the jokes themselves – though this, I suppose, was all part of his charm.

Simonsen’s inner critic should leave him in peace, because at the moment he is doing everything right. He is so unique and different that it's hard not to see him being a shining force – the northern light – in the future of comedy.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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