Julia Chamberlain - Chortle.co.uk'4 Stars - Performing against an intricately drawn backdrop of skeletal couples and storm-tossed waves it’s all a bit Pirates Of The Caribbean meets the Mexican Day Of The Dead, entirely appropriate to this highly decorated performer... 'open/close
This is another fine hour from Markus Birdman. Building on the success of last year’s show about the stroke he suffered, Happily Ever After is a dissection of the end of a relationship and its aftermath, with a cool look at marriage, religion, sexuality and romantic archetypes. And it’s a whole lot more fun that suggests.
Birdman cuts a dashing figure, elegant, poised, smart and theatrical. Performing against an intricately drawn backdrop of skeletal couples and storm-tossed waves it’s all a bit Pirates Of The Caribbean meets the Mexican Day Of The Dead, entirely appropriate to this highly decorated performer. It’s reassuring to see that pains have been taken to make this a polished show. If it looks this good, you can hope that the content will be equally well honed.
To ease himself, and the audience, into the show he recaps the salient points of last year’s show – having a stroke, surviving well and determining to live his life once he’s shaken off the survivor guilt for making it out of intensive care alive.
The is a dense show and although he sometimes deals with stock subjects, there’s an abundance of wit and honesty that lifts it way out of the ordinary. He doesn’t paint himself particularly heroically – he’s volatile and quick to take offence, even from an eight-year-old, but there’s an unsentimental emotional core to this, which gives depth to the barbed observations and knowing sexual undercurrent .
This is not a vulgar or explicit show, but certainly ‘contains adult themes’. It’s not only about romantic love, there’s the passionate love of family, for his parents, for his children and an incisive approach to championing same-sex relationships and marriage. It’s a hugely entertaining hour of thoughtful, heartfelt mature comedy, performed crisply with great energy and dynamism.
I wonder what sort of hour I am in for when ‘Tender' by alternative rock band Blur is the chosen walk-on music. A curious song-choice by Markus Birdman, given its reflective melancholy lyrics and mood.
However when he reveals the motivation for his show, I realise how perfect the song choice is. I admire Markus for making the brave decision to devise his new show based around the demise of his relationship with the mother of his child; his partner of 14 years...
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First off, Markus came out to Tender by Blur. Which is one of my favourite songs of all time. So he started off very well. Secondly, he opens with a piece justifying his swearing and argues against the perception that swearing is lazy. I swear like a sailor, so far Markus is 2 for 2. And for the rest of the night he was hitting pretty well, winning a reasonable sized crowd over and earning a huge applause and cheer at the end.
Markus doesn’t so much arrive on stage as explode on it. He’s all energy and tension, pacing around the stage, yelling, and just generally being excitable. I’m unsure if his use of Tender as a juxtaposition was deliberate but if so it’s a nice touch.
We were given a crash course in his show last year, which was written after he had a stroke. He had a bit of survivor guilt and now fuck-it-all off we go. This year’s tragic event was breaking up with his partner of 14 years. And for the next 55 minutes we’re treated to a rage-filled rant, witty jokes, wonderful self-deprecation, a masterful control of callbacks all the while not really pushing too many boundaries in creative subject matter.
The majority of Markus’ show is built around the idea of love, and its many guises. Love comes in all sorts of forms for Markus, there is the love of his former partner, the love of his daughter and the love of his own hatred. He keeps harking back to his own rage problems and how difficult it is to be near close to him, but by the end of the show I think the crowd was firmly in Markus’ camp. Despite any perceived shortcomings in his own personality he’s got a wonderfully charming stage persona.
This is real comedy-as-therapy stuff. Markus channels all his frustrations and disappointments at his life over the last 12 months, and himself in general and just blats them out to the crowd. We laugh, we listen, we sympathise and then we laugh some more. The material earlier in the night gets the biggest laughs, however from my own snobby perspective I really enjoyed the latter half as he got more and more creative with his gear, bringing up some beautifully (revoltingly?) evocative images .
Overall, Markus’ show was a really enjoyable hour, and has been one of the better shows I’ve seen so far this year.
One4Review, UK'Four Stars - Markus Birdman is a comedian who has always turned in quality shows over the last few years and this one for me is one of his best.'open/close
Markus Birdman is a comedian who has always turned in quality shows over the last few years and this one for me is one of his best.
Hampered a little by a strangely subdued Monday night audience who didn’t give him a lot to work with, Birdman did the admin, stating that he loves to swear and giving the many first timers a potted history of his life and then straight into this year’s offering.
The theme of the show is largely about his fourteen year relationship break up with his partner and how this has reflected on his life, changes that have gone on over the last few months. Never maudlin and not like a therapy session in any way this engaging comic reals off a whole host of funny material both about his personal circumstances and the gender divide as well.
There is a certain sadness about his situation and he admits to being heart broken, but having survived a stroke just over a year ago Birdman is made of strong stuff and I will look forward to seeing next year’s chapter.