This week at the Basement Theatre Dan Nightingale is trying his best not to be a dick. Truth is he is a bit of a dick but most people who are outrageously funny usually are.
From what I have seen from the international talent at this festival, Dan Nightingale has been my favourite so far. Dan Nightingale is not one for audience interaction, but we did get a bit of a prodding in the second row in amongst one of his droll observations. It is his power of observation that makes him so entertaining and he doesn’t rate Nandos in this country at all – he also lives with his sister.
That last point was a bit random but it all makes sense when trying to piece together why Dan Nightingale is a bit of a dick. His routine focuses on his relationship with porn, women and his father, but digresses into things such as some hilariously awkward moments when ordering takeout. He ventured into risky territory when he began to take the micky out of his father’s recently acquired Parkinson’s disease, but it ended up being one of his most brilliant gags.
Dan Nightingale may be failing at trying not to be a dick, but he is an expert at self-depreciating humour and this is what makes him so charming. He was too right when he stated that he looked like a Danish physics teacher and he blames his lack of internet dating success on his unfortunate features. But hey it always helps from the get go if a comedian looks funny, kind of similar to a golf handicap. Do see Dan Nightingale, the Basement Theatre is the real deal and so is he.
This show has many elements I've been looking for in stand up for a while: intelligence, honesty, cohesiveness, structure, set up and payoff; still managing to appear unscripted and spontaneous and as if the storyteller is not running off an unalterable set list they memorised months prior; jokes about racism without being racist jokes; white male comedy that is doing a fair job of being something slightly different.
A friend asked before the show, “Is it just going to be one of those white male dick comedians?”
“Actually,” I said, “he's trying his best not to be.”
Foxglove is a really nice venue.
A charming recorded message from Nightingale's niece or nephew opens the show and instantly offsets any dickish jokes that might come by establishing him as a genuine nice guy who likes kids and is also a loveable uncle. Nightingale says he came up with the title because swear words are attention-grabbing and he wanted a title with a swear in it. It takes me a fair bit of time to figure out which word Nightingale is referring to. Thinks ‘dick' is a swear word? That's the sort of genuine nice guy he is.
Being able to tell us about his show in Auckland the other night, being able to make audience-specific jokes without harassing the audience or using clichéd lines that would work in any location, all gives a sense of authenticity and creates the illusion that the entire show has been scripted (or not scripted at all) just for us.
There is some good tie-in with last year's show, which I did not see, (“Last year I told you all that... well, since then, this has happened...”), that also made me feel like we were all catching up with an old friend, even though I've never seen him before.
Of course he does know how to swear in New Zealand English too, perhaps a little more than I'm comfortable with, and yes, there are a few crasser jokes, particularly a detailed anecdote that I really, really don't want to be visualising, but his charming affability lets him get away with it. He isn't being mean. He isn't being offensive. Of course, it could be just my pink guilt talking, but I think he's really not being a dick.
He performed at Auckland's Basement Theatre. It was my first time there and it lived up to its basement-like expectations – but it was cool. It had a laid-back, choose-where-you-sit policy, which is good news if you want to avoid being a front-row improvisation topic.
The lights dimmed. The speakers played a toddler's voiceover welcoming Nightingale, a bald, pasty, British man with thick black glasses, onto the stage.
The first 20 minutes of his show felt a bit uncomfortable – but to Nightingale's credit, there wasn't anything wrong with his content. I think it took a while for the audience to warm up to him. But once they did, Nightingale proved to be a performer who thrives on audience energy. His jokes gradually got funnier and better-delivered as he went along.
Nightingale covered a range of topics including racism, driving, health disorders, internet dating and his "dirty" sex life.
His style is observational. Most of the time, his jokes were great. But on a couple of instances I was left thinking, maybe I had to be there?
It must be noted out of all the comedians I have seen attempt a Kiwi accent over the years, Nightingale's was actually quite good – even though it was very camp. In fact, every accent he attempted was camp.
If you want to see a fresh comedy face, Nightingale's show is a good time – and he didn't seem to be a dick.
Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Dan-Nightingale-Is-Trying-His-Best-Not-to-Be-a-Dick-review/tabid/418/articleID/343112/Default.aspx#ixzz310oq6tJ5