Des Clarke: The Trouble with Being Des

The Trouble with Being Des, according to Des Clarke, is that he has an inner demon man child inside him which makes him “weird”—not least within the context of growing up in a high-rise flat in Glasgow’s notorious Gorbals district—and liable to say the wrong thing. For any reviewer, though, the Trouble with Des Clarke is that it’s nigh on impossible to review one of his shows and give any sense of just how genuinely funny he is.

Clarke isn’t a “dangerous” comedian, unless you’re worried about losing bladder control from laughing too much.

You can list the subjects he talks about; it’s a long list, from the Commonwealth Games (and how most Scots are genuinely surprised that we didn’t fuck them up) to his dislike of airport shops, from why he isn’t a golf-loving Alpha Male to schoolyard nicknames and the agonies involved in getting his first “proper haircut”. On paper you can see how he mixes in a few topical subjects with his own personal take on experiences that are surprisingly universal (though even Clarke seemed surprised at just how many people in the audience on the night of this review had their school jotters covered in unused wallpaper—is that a peculiarly Scottish thing?)

On paper, though, such a list lacks any of the life that Clarke brings to the stage. Clarke’s a self-confessed fidget, of course; on this occasion, he’s even invested in a natty stool in the vague hope that, by forcing himself to sit on it, he can save at least some of his audience from whiplash injuries as he roams from one side to the other of the “Goth’s bedroom” of a set. (He likes the chandeliers, though.) Such roaming is simply an expression of his seemingly unlimited energy; he is an explosion of movement and words. A stereotypical Glaswegian in that respect; you just wonder how he manages to remember to breathe.

Recognising—indeed, to an extent, revelling in—his own “weirdness”, Clarke does then take the unexpected step of assuming that at least some of the people who come to see him must be a bit weird themselves, and so indulges in a bit of audience participation with a survey that—again, on the night of this review—resulted in material he insisted he couldn’t really top. Except, of course, he did; though one does wonder if it might be worth him paying the people concerned to turn up most nights, just in case…

Clarke isn’t a “dangerous” comedian, unless you’re worried about losing bladder control from laughing too much. He’s a constant delight, though, and well worth catching if you can.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Des is at a crossroads in life and has some things he needs to get off his chest. This time it’s personal. Host of Scotland's Capital Breakfast Show, Des is an award-winning comedian who first appeared at the Fringe as a teenager. Since then, he has travelled the world with his offbeat brand of humour and become a familiar face on TV. There have been some major bumps in the road though. All part of the Trouble With Being Des. ***** (Daily Record). **** (Edinburgh Evening News). **** (List). **** (Chortle.co.uk).