Struggling to Evolve ‘promises a guide to sex, drink and violence’ – which sounds like prime material for an edgy comedian seeking to unsettle his audience. David Whitney may talk like a chubby English comic, and he may sweat like one too, but the jokes appear harder to come by. Where’s the risque humour? Where’s the licentiousness? As it turns out, nothing about Whitney adds up: he’s not edgy and he’s not English either, as he confesses at the outset. The plummy-voiced man takes to the stage playing the bagpipes and then admits to having been born in Aberdeen. Pleasing as it would be to insert a quip about all Aberdonians being born comedians, the truth is Whitney’s not that funny. Not at first, anyway. There’s some Russell Brand-type shtick and a few good one-liners in there but it’s barely LOL material, let alone the stuff that ROFL-copters are made of.
If this is the best we can expect from Whitney, Houston we have a problem: this could be an interminable hour. As if sensing the collective ennui, however, the comedian finds a third gear, and then a fourth and then we’re flying, with dick jokes being liberally tossed at the audience and vajazzle quips tripping off the tongue. They’re good too. David Whitney doesn’t do bog-standard knob jokes. His are so good you’d tell them to your own mother. By the time Whitney has finished likening sex to McDonald’s, Microsoft Windows, and a bunch of other incongruous objects his work is done and the Scotsman masquerading as an Englishman can pick up his bagpipes and leave the stage.
When he’s on form Whitney is a pleasure to watch, yet it’s hard to escape the feeling that there’s something missing from his comedy. A sense of urgency. A sense of danger. A sense that anything could happen. Front row and I didn’t get picked on once. There’s a David Whitney show in there somewhere – complete with a barrel-load of gags about fapping and ball-bags – because Whitney doesn’t need to engage with his audience; he already knows what they want. Us upright apes do love a good dick joke.