Talk about making a big entrance: not just at the start of the show but on to the Edinburgh stage as a whole. David Trent bursts on to the Fringe with ballsy, bold and intense hour of inventive, tech-heavy comedy that’s smart and dumb in equal measure.
He initially has the arrogant posturing and supercharged energy with which Nick Helm aggressively grabbed attention two years ago – no surprise, perhaps as Trent’s in his backing band the Helmettes – although it’s not long before this is revealed to be all front.
The pumping soundtrack and impressive quick-cut montages add a real sense of urgency. The videos are not just props but at the heart of a show that’s in danger of giving ‘multimedia’ a good name.
At its simplest, Trent is doing little more than scrawling digital graffiti on YouTube clips, or passing sarcastic comment on what’s on the plethora of screens scattered around the Pleasance Attic, but he does it well, and with force. Like TV Burp if Harry Hill was on PCP.
His targets are refreshingly obtuse: the guitar-swirling antics of At The Drive-In’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez or the act of purchasing a Belkin 5m VGA cable become hallmark routines, which he wilfully pushes too far.
That compulsion to go too far led to some awkwardness among some of this late-night audience, who presumably didn’t quite know what they were letting themselves in for so early in the Fringe. A little chatty throughout the whole show, a couple of them took umbrage when Trent took a passé observation about pointless ‘serving suggestions’ on food and careered it into deliberately vile territory.
It led to an awkward atmosphere for a while, but after he clawed his way out of it, the frisson probably heightened the ultimate enjoyment for the not-so readily offended.
Even without that unexpected tension, there are a few lulls mid-show, despite the initial oomph. Part of it’s necessary as Trent reveals his weaknesses behind the bluster, but a couple of sluggish scenes, such as section on God’s Facebook page, seems uncharacteristically ordinary.
But they are notable exceptions, and everything leads inexorably to a rewarding and unexpected climax. Or several, as this show has more false start-stop endings that anyone would consider wise.
That’s the appeal of Trent: doing the ill-advised with such conviction and off-kilter sense of humour, that it becomes memorably funny. That’s why this is such a confident, unusual debut.
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David Trent: Spontaneous Comedian