Dave Johns: I, Fillum Star

It is a real privilege to get to spend time with Dave Johns for an hour as he recounts the rollercoaster that he has experienced since being cast as the lead part in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. Awarded ‘Best Male Newcomer’ at the BAFTAs last year, which he himself pointed out was hilarious at the age of 62, he is now one of the biggest name draws at this year’s Fringe.

Finally, Johns is getting the attention he deserves.

Hilarious in parts, but more importantly, completely genuine and down-to-earth, Johns is a natural performer and holds the crowd throughout. He talks about the ‘imposter syndrome’ he has felt since being catapulted into the limelight, as he gives anecdotes about hanging out with stars like Woody Allen and Sean Connery at film festivals across Europe. A lot of these stories centre around Johns remaining his cheeky self despite being star struck, and even if it seems likely that he has exaggerated these to gently mock the film industry, his personality is completely infectious when delivering the tales with enthusiasm.

He talks about his working-class upbringing in North Tyneside, the alternative plans that he had for retiring from stand-up, and the recognition that he now receives in the street — typically: ‘Do I know you? Are you the guy that delivered my nan’s fridge?’. He also discusses saliently the political messages that underpin I, Daniel Blake, and the disgrace of the current social set-up forcing individuals into reliance on food banks. It is all executed with precision, and Johns is the perfect spokesman for common sense as he is deeply insightful yet self-deprecating. The show also serves to highlight the injustice of him having remained a relatively unknown stand-up for 30 years. Finally, Johns is getting the attention he deserves. 

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The Blurb

What happens to a comedian when he's plucked from obscurity by master film maker Ken Loach and cast in the title role of one of the most acclaimed and talked about British films of recent years? I, Daniel Blake became a beacon for social realism and, for Dave Johns, a rollercoaster ride of red carpet surrealism. From The Cannes Film Festival to the BAFTAs, he was there, wide-eyed. Now, he's back doing the thing he loves best – making people laugh.

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