Barry Castagnola: The Donny Donkins 'As (hopefully soon to be) Seen On TV' Show

Barry Castagnola has summed up all of the most depressing things about Fringe comedy with his newest character. Donny Donkins is a failing comic with no talent and delusional aspirations. He has spent money he doesn’t have to come to Edinburgh to showcase an ability he doesn’t have and he is desperate for approval.

This entire show is dependent on its context; it surely couldn’t work outside the Festival. Donkins talks naively of his ‘five year plan’ to make it big and calls his inane jokes ‘edgy’.

At first, it is very funny. This is astute satire and Castagnola pulls off his bumbling persona very well. But after a while, as Donkins looks hopefully and then miserably, at his cue cards, the hilarity of his badness begins to fade. There is only so long you can watch someone pretending to be terrible and desperate before you stop finding it funny and start feeling terrible and desperate yourself. Within fifteen minutes the comments about losing the audience begin. About forty minutes in, Donkins’ desperation descends into hysteria. ‘Please be nice to me,’ he sobs, ‘there’s a reviewer in tonight and I’ve borrowed so much money to be here.’ The laughs are sparse.

The problem with this show is that the character is a fantastic concept for about ten minutes. After this, the misery is infectious. The running joke of Donkins having just found out that his dad isn’t his real dad became actively upsetting. The real low point happened when an audience member had to guess how many tries it would take Donkins to find a card in a pre-recorded magic trick. In the video, our magician walks into a letting agency, asks the agent at the desk to think of a card, and begins to pull cards off the deck one by one, every time asking if this was the right card. It takes him forty eight cards to find the right card. After half an hour of similar gags, this wasn’t even awkward any more. It was downright boring.

Donny Donkins is a great spoof on the Fringe comedy scene and the show contains good variation between cringe-worthy stand-up, terrible character acts, songs, video clips and two interviews (which really were funny). The problem is that it gets tiring quickly and when there really are so many depressing and desperate comics to see in Edinburgh, even an ironic one can only be borne for so long.

Reviews by Charlotte Goodman

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Undisputed* King of Comedy's live TV show. Parkinson, Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, Saturday Kitchen, Beadle's About and Panorama - rolled into one. ‘Amazingly brilliant’ ****** (Anonymous). *disputed

Most Popular See More

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets