David Trent: Spontaneous Comedian ★★★★

Sarah Kendell - Spoonfed, 14th August 2012

“To some he’s a fantastically unique break-out star, to others he’s not half as funny as he thinks he is.” So what will we make of newcomer David Trent’s debut show?

There’s always a moment of tension when the lights go down at the beginning of a new act’s debut. That final second of dread where you think: “Is this going to be any good? Will it be a great new comedy discovery that I can brag about being one of the first to unearth, or will it be a horrendously awkward hour of laughing at not-quite-funny gags, looking down at the floor and counting the minutes until it’s all over?”

This tension is heightened further as I take my seat for David Trent’s show for two reasons – a) the ticket I persuaded my mate to buy to accompany me for this review wasn’t cheap and b) I’ve heard extremely polarising opinions on Trent since I arrived at the Fringe. To some he’s a fantastically unique break-out star, to others he’s not half as funny as he thinks he is; so odds-wise, it could go either way. Luckily it seems those odds are firmly in our favour tonight, as I and seemingly the rest of the crowd, thoroughly enjoy Trent’s hour of boisterous, innovative and at times absurd stylings.

If Edinburgh punters are so far divided on Trent, I can see on the surface why that might be the case. Firstly, in deliberate and amusing contrast to his show title, his entire act is based around that Fringe bugbear that has become as annoyingly ubiquitous as vuvuzelas at the World Cup: the PowerPoint presentation. That said, the comedian seems to have achieved what we all thought was impossible at this point, and breathed new life into an overused art. He fuses audio, music, video and a few tongue-in-cheek gimmicks I won’t spoil for those planning to see the show, in such a way that all previous Powerpoint-toting Fringe acts look like primary school amateurs.

Secondly, there is a certain boisterous roughness to both his delivery and material that I could imagine getting some audiences offside. Much like Nick Helm, his shouty swagger is part of a comic persona that belies an inner layer of awkward insecurities, which Trent occasionally allows us amusing glimpses of during the show. The cocky one-of-the-lads feel also extends itself to some rather low-brow material at times which, depending on your taste, could be interpreted as either cheap laughs or hilariously appropriate. Considering the 10:45pm time slot Trent is in however, it’s unlikely the late-night audience are expecting sophisticated political satire.

It’s not quite a perfect show: some of his material isn’t as tight as it could be. But the comedian’s innovative delivery, multi-layered performance skills and at times, brilliantly observed material, makes him one of the most intriguing acts I’ve seen in a long while, and a definite one to watch.