Dan Cook: Community Service

When a man chooses to present an hour of unrelenting comedy wearing an orange jumpsuit and sequinned jacket, you know he doesn't take himself too seriously. We don't take him seriously either and therein lies the appeal of his show. Dan Cook, formerly of sketch troupe Delete the Banjax, warns us early on that none of his sketches really have a punchline, yet all of them seem to work. Whether it’s thanks to a through-line, an absurdist twist or an awful pun, Cook rarely fails to get a laugh.

Beside Cook are Rose Johnson and Camille Ucan; not mentioned in his advertising but still intrinsic to the show. Johnson plays the straight-man to Cook's wonderfully silly foil, providing the sketch show with a backbone of narrative. Cook, it would appear, has committed a minor crime and has chosen to perform at the Fringe as part of his Community Service. Every time a sketch starts to go awry or into the realms of the wildly inappropriate, therefore, Johnson is there to rein him back in. Even when the show runs away with itself, or when the lack of punchline leaves us having to decipher the point of a sketch, the jaunty music punctuating each cut-scene keeps energy levels high.

Cook's seeming mistrust of his own work ensures that we don't misunderstand his aims. This is absurdism and silliness just for the sake of being silly. He warns us beforehand when a cringeworthy pun is on the way and though he acts like he is forced to be there, it is obvious that he revels in performance. The tiny venue makes it possible for the comic to stare down audience members as he delivers one-liners, meaning that, as well as the joke, we have the character, the intimate gaze of the comedian and the eventual giggle he allows himself.

If this is punishment for Cook's character, it certainly isn't for his audience. The fifty minutes fly by in a whirl of imagined glitter, a dog onesie and a lot of service to the community. And a love song about leprosy.

Reviews by Jenni Ajderian

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The Blurb

I've done a crime (soz), now I've got to do the time, and by time, I mean this show. Things featured in it are: sketches, songs and Sandra (my community support officer). #YOLO ‘Consistently excellent’ (Guardian).