Brendon Burns @ Courtyard Bar (University of Yorkshire) Review

The atmosphere in the Courtyard bar before Brendon Burns’ gig feels similar to waiting in the queue for a roller coaster: there’s a distinct feel of people who are excited for what they know is about to happen, and people who’ve never seen Burns and are bloody terrified. The location is certainly different: a student union bar as the venue for an award-winning international comedian. It’s all part of Burns’ latest tour, Outside the Box. Following in the footsteps of Doug Stanhope and Neil Hamburger, the tour deliberately avoids large arenas and opts for secluded or intimate venues, off the beaten track of the comedy circuit. What follows is a unique night of comedy unlike any other I’ve seen in York.

Brendon Burns

Burns is known for his “edgy” material, covering many topics which comedy may deem as taboo. Within the first five minutes he makes a joke about a child which leaves the audience not knowing where to look. However, as the show progresses it’s clear that Burns is aiming to bring issues like race, abuse, and politics to comedy with no ulterior motives. His level of intelligence on the range of topics shows his informed opinions which mould the political rants against both Nigel Farage and the hypnotic powers of Russell Brand. The subject of rape is handled expertly, turning all jokes against the offenders and acting as a powerful force against the fear of taboo which seems to have gripped the comic scene.

One of Burns’ best qualities is his immediate familiarity with the audience. In such a small venue, he is free to talk seemingly directly to members of the audience, even checking with a young man in the front row that he can yell at him later. (He does yell at him later, and it’s hilarious.) The audience warm to Burns’ brilliant range of anecdotes, from his experience doing censored and speakeasy gigs, to finding an expletive written on a dead wombat. Even when explaining his disgruntlement with how the word ‘feminist’ is wrongly used, or discussing Yewtree scandals, the audience are completely on side throughout to see Burns’ angle through.

Burns ends the night on a piece of material he calls ‘a bet from other comedians’. I don’t want to spoil it, because it is spectacular. Outside the Box is no Live At the Apollo, but it’s so much better than a “regular” arena gig. Burns’ directness with the audience, combined with his hilarious finishing material, makes the show like something you’d see at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and there’s no reason why Fringe shows shouldn’t exist outside of August. To those of you scared to get on this rollercoaster, I heartily recommend: it’s simultaneously respectful and irreverent, but most importantly it’s bloody good fun. 5/5

Review written by Louise Jones.

Brendon Burns’ Outside the Box is currently on tour. To find out more about the show, visit here…

For tickets to the Wolverhampton showing, visit here…

For tickets to the Reading showing, visit here…

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