A Pessimist's Guide to Being Happy

If Dr. House did comedy, it might very well resemble a Matt Duwell show. The human incarnation of schadenfreude, Duwell’s caustic sardonicism is the overlying note of A Pessimist’s Guide To Being Happy, where his staunch, gloom-ridden message is clear: always look on the s***e side of life. Espousing the benefits of a negative outlook, the Brighton comic encourages us to think through a sceptical lens on the trials and turmoil that life has to offer us. Critically, Duwell makes clear that it is possible to live a happy life through a miserable perspective; it just won’t be filled with disappointments.

A witty comic who is more than capable of thinking on his feet and willing to get to know his audience.

Aware of the constraints of the venue's cramped and hot climate, Duwell timed his show well by keep things within a 40 minute time frame, making for a short yet piquant evening that doesn't wear thin on the attention span, with topics ranging from genitalia to Netflix. With neurotic rhythms, the show builds a gradual momentum that sees his heavy hitters emerge from a lukewarm beginning into an uproarious crescendo that had the audience splitting sides.

Melancholy may be his salvation, but it is certainly not his defining characteristic. Duwell's cheerful ad lib audience interactions were, by a large margin, his most lucid quality, where he was adept at using the crowd for on-the-spot jokes, something which certainly shone through when withstanding the cackling jeers of the four drugged up harpies in the front row. Adapting his recent Fringe experiences into new material, Duwell salvages anything at his disposal and manages to successfully turn it into a source of laughter, conveying a witty comic who is more than capable of thinking on his feet and willing to get to know his audience.

Low key – not overly enthusiastic, yet nonetheless playing into his pessimistic stance – Duwell is an accomplished comedian with a cynical yet sanguine disposition that carries his show from start to finish. The Fringe veteran triumphantly concludes his evening to rapturous applause, leaving the satisfied audience now grappling with an existential crisis. What did Duwell have to make of the show? His curt closing retort drives home his pessimistic stance like a stake into a heart: "We’re all going to be dead soon anyway, so I'm not really worried about it."

Reviews by Stuart Mckenzie

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A Pessimist's Guide to Being Happy

★★★★
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★★★★★

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The Blurb

With the world seemingly falling apart, Matt Duwell ('imaginative appeal and razor-sharp, death-dealing wit' **** (Broadway Baby.com)) presents a comedy show to prove that being pessimistic is better for your happiness.

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