Don’t ever listen to Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin.
He’ll tell you he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’ll be meek, he’ll be mild, he’ll be apologetic, self-effacing and modest to the degree that it will make you guilty about just how ‘showy’ you must be in comparison. Even if you’re not one of the ten squillion people up here in a show. You’ve come to see his fringe debut and he’s written it and everything - but you don’t have to watch if you don’t want to...
It’s all rubbish. He knows exactly what he’s doing and has you slap bang in the middle of the palm of his hand. Without even realising it, you’re dancing to his tune. And loving it. And you paid for the privilege. You mug.
It’s a bloody good job he’s funny. Which he is. This ‘unplanned and completely random’ show starts before you even sit down. A guy in a shell suit with his back to the audience dancing like no-one is watching. You see? He’s got you from the off. Of COURSE you are watching. The dancing is awful and it’s a terrible, terrible shell suit top. It’s something from 1987 coming back to haunt you all over again and not in the same way those retro films you love seeing pop up on Netflix do. It’s that Rick Astley B-side that you’ve tried deleting from iTunes over and over but keeps cropping up on the playlist at parties. It’s that bad. So bad it’s funny. Damn... he’s done it again.
And then of course he starts with the poetry. Random, random poetry that means nothing really. Is there a theme? A narrative? No. It’s just a collection of thoughts from the little Badger (we get the Gaelic translation of the name Broccan handed to us within the first few moments of the show) and in no way can the antics of Peter Rabbit, a young man called Larry (who is ever so happy) and her Majesty the Queen ever be woven into a rich tapestry of lyrical artistry.
No way at all that could all be funny. And yet....
You catch my drift - it’s cleverererer than it will ever admit. Brimming with malapropisms and populist attacks on James Corden you need to be constantly awake to take in Bróccán’s show. You WILL miss things if you aren’t paying attention. Take a moment to reflect on the fact you paid £6 for a beer at the Underbelly (Really? I mean.... Really?) and you will suddenly find that he’s skipped on to another character - which he is inhabiting fully with consummate ease.
Takeaway moments from the show were many - especially in the relaxed way that our poet guide interacted with the tech. The now common ‘Gorman-esque’ slideshow visual that has weaved its way into fringe comedy like Japanese knotweed on heat (and is often over-used) but here - it did not seem at all out of place. Pictures punctuating the words to give us something that was both retro and extremely cutting edge at the same time. Line of the afternoon? “Trump & Brexit? - they sound like horrendous Pokemon...” - I’ll be misquoting that one for some time to come I can guarantee you.
Yes, there are moments when relative inexperience within the stand up circuit niggles at the edges (as he says himself on stage, this is a journey which started at an open mic night as late as Autumn 2017) but you forgive the odd away from the mic mishap or the moments when it really is just a little too quick. This is a Jackson Pollock piece anyway - you have to stand back a bit to properly get it. Fill in the gaps. Wake up.
As stated at the start though - this is in no way an accidental piece of writing/standup/poetry/whatever it is that seems to have spawned from the brain of Mr Carlin. We are brought back down to earth at the climax of the show by a man who went to the moon.
The seemingly non consequential episodic poem of Neil Armstrong’s journey to the lunar surface which crops up throughout the show is a wonder in itself. Neil’s personal realisations in the poem are a fitting vehicle for this piece of deceptive wizardry (must give credit to Robert Galbraith there...) bringing an existential moment to all that has come before. The audience were totally enraptured with it as the pieces of the puzzle slotted slowly into place throughout the show.
You see all of this randomness? It’s us. It’s all our stories. Here on Earth. And they’re all ludicrous. They’re as ludicrous as a man dancing in a purple shell suit pretending that he has anything whatsoever in common with a gangster rapper and while he’s busy dancing like a loon, telling us a story about the Queen being a pantomime horse. Which she of course isn’t. But then he proves to you she is. Just a bit.
And you really should laugh at it.
Maybe Don’t Bother.
‘Don’t Bother’ is at the Underbelly, Bristo Square, Edinburgh until the 26th August (not 12th or 24th) at 12:10pm