In a “day in the life” format of her experiences at Burning Man festival, Desiree Burch intricately tells us the story of her search for sex during an unintentional acid trip. Throw in the history of IQ tests and eugenics, as well as black movie tropes, and you’ve got an educational and also hilarious show in Desiree’s Coming Early! At the start, it’s hard to work out what relevance eugenics has to Burning Man, but Burch ties the story together effortlessly, linking her own experiences of IQ tests to being black.
Burch’s comedic storytelling is a joy to watch
Much of the show talks about growing up as a black girl and being black in white spaces (for example, Yale University as well as Burning Man) but a lot of it is also just a funny story about a fun day she had. Often we see a lot of comedy that tries too hard to put a message into their show, but Desiree’s Coming Early! does this effortlessly as a result of just talking about her experiences. The fact she is a black woman is both quintessential to parts of the story and irrelevant to others, but this works perfectly.
Burch excels at acting as well as storytelling – she portrays other actors in her day at Burning Man brilliantly. From her best friend Dave to the other festival goers, to the bartender to guys who hit on her at the bar, she has the audience in stitches throughout the show. It makes you feel as if you are really there with her, which is something I’ve not often experienced in a stand up show.
Edinburgh is a ridiculously white place, both during the Fringe and year-round, so shows like Desiree’s Coming Early! are needed more and more. Even if they aren’t explicitly political, Burch’s comedic storytelling is a joy to watch, and it is but a bonus that us white people in the audience learn something from it.