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The Exciting Adventure of an Uninteresting Man
Published on Wednesday, 21 August 2013
3

3 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (venue website)
Comedy
1-6, 8-25 Aug, 5:30pm-6:30pm
Reviewed by Liam McKenna

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 14+ only.

We’ve been stuffed into the corner of a crowded attic space. There are even a couple of men sat outside watching the show through a window, like some sort of scientific observation. The question is: does it reflect the popularity of the act, or the size of the room? A bit of both, it turns out.

Irish to the bone, David Burke is blessed with the gift of the gab. He sets down a yellow teapot on an upturned cardboard box, explaining that this isn’t stand-up; it’s basically “a conversation while a guy drinks tea.” He is, despite the title, a very interesting individual, with a fantastic bushy beard that comes to a neat point. And he has seemingly been everywhere.

He starts with the classic opener, garnering the geography of the room. Today’s a majority Scottish crowd with a few English, a Welsh girl and a pair of Americans thrown in. But according to the stars dotted about on the map pinned to the wall, he’s had visitors from as far afield as New Zealand and Japan.

Burke refuses to leave anyone out. Even the people stood outside are referred to time and again. It’s all in good fun; charming and harmlessly offensive. Only a man with a Celtic accent as affectionate as Burke’s can call Wales “the retarded third cousin who sticks lego up cat’s bums” and get away with it. Nothing can be taken seriously, he reminds us, when it’s said in a soft Irish voice like his.

The only tarnish to the relaxed mood comes from some more-awkward-than-planned dialogue with an American. “You’re not a religious nut job are you?” Burke enquires facetiously, mid-way through a rant about Sarah Palin. He can’t resist returning to this guy throughout to seek approval, or see how he’s getting on.

Burke admits he’s not entirely sure what this show is “about”. It is just a succession of stories about places he’s visited – the mere mention of a country gives rise to an anecdote – loves he’s lost, and living in hostels. (The funniest segment comes from a re-enactment of a woman being violently sick in her bed.) A lack of cohesion is not necessarily a bad thing. Tales emerge from far flung corners of Asia: “Yeah, I’ve been to ’Nam,” says Burke in the tone of a war-hardened veteran. “It was pretty easy to get into. You just need a visa.”

It’s action films that drove Burke to visit places like Cambodia and Vietnam. He wanted to discover the truth behind the mask of heroic American patriotism. The revelations are inevitably a far cry from the evil depicted in Hollywood. And it’s here that Burke does leaves us with a moral, of a kind: life is not a film because films aren’t real. It’s somewhat glib, perhaps, but everyone leaves smiling. Job done.

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