Darren Harriott: Defiant

Birmingham born and London-based, Darren Harriott has been billed as one of the most exciting up-and-coming comedians on the circuit right now. In his Edinburgh Fringe debut Darren Harriott: Defiant, he gets the opportunity to flash the quick wit and cheeky smile that, I can tell you now, is going to make him a pretty big deal very soon.

An unstoppable force of comic power lurking under the surface

In a scruffy t-shirt and snapback cap, Harriott is the epitome of relaxed street style in his manner and delivery, with an absorbing, ever-present grin that you can’t help but return in kind. Seemingly at ease with himself and the room, Harriott radiates an infectiously uplifting energy that can be at odds with the sometimes bleak subject material. It’s a delicate balance of close-to-home topics, from racism and mental health to drug addiction in the family, but for the most part these are delivered with a well-prepared assuredness, leaving no feeling of awkwardness or tension.

It is, of course, difficult to ignore that global politics is providing comedians with something of a field day at the moment. Resisting most of the more obvious jokes, as I’m sure we’re all getting tired of references to Donald Trump’s tiny hands, Harriott instead ties sharp one-liners back to his own family life with ease and manages the risk of alienating a crowd admirably well. Unpopular opinions are never easy to deliver in front of an audience, but this show stays true to its title: using assertion over aggression, Harriott is able to gently poke fun at both sides of an argument, a talent especially useful when discussing the Brexit result at an arts festival.

Whilst not all the lines land, with new material apparently being added every day, that’s perhaps to be expected. There was also a noticeable feeling of searching for more as the minutes drew to a close, and when the end arrived it felt like quite an abrupt goodbye. This was all that held back an unstoppable force of comic power lurking under the surface, and if Harriott tidies up the ending, this will be a truly fantastic set. I look forward to seeing more.

Reviews by Katie Rose

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The Blurb

Three things are guaranteed in life: failure, strong opinions and death. This (very funny) debut show from Darren Harriott is about all three. Darren is one of the most exciting up-and-coming comedians on the circuit. In the last year, he has appeared on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central, supporting Jimmy Carr. He then headed to the Edinburgh Festival 2016 as part of the prestigious Pleasance Reserve, where he featured on the comedy show BBC Radio 4 Extra Stands Up. 'Harriott, is definitely going to make an impact' (Bruce Dessau).