Comedy duo Dan & Dan, famous such YouTube hits as Requiem for a Wardrobe and the brilliant Daily Mail Song, have graduated to the real world of live comedy. However, if you are familiar with any of their work, you will recognise that this may pose some technical issues. Indeed, Dan & Dan are the ingenious creation of the one and only Dan, who doubles himself via technology to create a doppelgänger who likes to accompany him on the guitar and chat about their life in music together; it’s more charming than it sounds. Despite my initial trepidation over their step onto the stage, The First Sign of Madness is not only a brilliant foray into the world of live performance, but a bright development of the pre-existing format.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Dan & Dan’s new live show is suggested in the title. More so than in their videos, Dan & Dan have become increasingly distinct personalities, and there is much comedy to be had from their bickering. While stage-Dan is a bit of a miserly curmudgeon, pre-recorded Dan is effervescently upbeat, which is amusingly reflected in their musical tastes; the running joke that had stage-Dan yearning to play his new song, The Dissolution of Love, had us laughing throughout.
I am not alone in enjoying some self-conscious comedy and in this show Dan & Dan perfect it. Indeed, at the height of their inevitable fallout, stage-Dan yells, ‘You’re just a gimmick’, to which pre-recorded Dan retorts, ‘but you’re nothing without me’. The latter Dan’s insistence that they give improv a go never got old and neither did stage-Dan’s excuse that ‘he does this every time’. Despite the very fixed nature of Dan & Dan’s act, the show feels remarkably natural. There was even a point during the show that Dan & Dan got up someone from the audience; while I held my breath for the entire section – god forbid stage-Dan lost the reins of the recording – it worked surprisingly well and I was very impressed by such a bold move.
The only downside to the show was the songs themselves, which tended to disappoint. The brilliant thing about the Daily Mail Song was how intelligently satirical it was; songs delivered in a chicken outfit did not quite reach the same intellectual heights. However, the premise behind the show itself continued to be a clever and at times hilarious and I can’t help but commend such an ingenious design so faultlessly executed.