Mid-afternoon, an audience of just 10 people is not what most standups would want to see in front of them. Damien Crow is different. He welcomes small crowds because otherwise it would just be like being in a branch of Starbucks, full of “dick-sucking corporate whores.” However, like much of the following hour, you quickly sense that the point of the exercise is that Damien Crow protests just a little too much to be believed.
Damien Crow is Chris Forbes’ personification of a wannabe Goth; a dark-clad satire of lanky teenage self-delusion, rebellion and faux-non-conformity struggling to find something genuine to kick out against and cursed with a loving, supportive middle-class home in prosperous Milngavie, near Glasgow. Crowe wishes he had a more traditional dad who, after a couple of drinks, would beat him instead of expressing his undying love (and subsidizing his comedy gigs). He also clearly wishes he didn’t have a bored tech guy who keeps interrupting the demonstrations of his “genuine” psychic abilities. Then there’s also the question of his best-mate and fellow band-player, Gordon Mitchell, who embarrassingly turns up in flip-flops and summer shorts to join in the show’s unexpected accordion-finale.
Being a Goth, Crowe insists, is not easy; it’s a full-time commitment, a lifestyle choice that has real consequences, from not being seen in public eating ice cream to listening to really noisy music. To keep himself focused, he has a self-penned list of “things that are black or dark in nature like my soul”, but it’s a list that rapidly runs out of steam - which the show risks doing on several occasions. Sadly, a particularly good point - how is it people get mocked for dressing up as Goths or Star Trek heroes but not footballers? - is undercut by the repeated focus on the unfairness of being a Goth in (pretty expensive) trainers.
Forbes is a naturally gifted performer, but overall the show is as anemic as his white-powdered face. Like many a self-absorbed teenager, Crowe is definitely more tolerable in small doses.