It’s apt, if a little predictable, that the pre-show music Doug Segal selects for his latest Fringe show is the classic James Brown track
If you’re looking for a one-hour definition of feeling better about yourself, then you can’t go wrong with spending the time in Doug Segal’s company.
Certainly he’s not one to hold back from chatting with the crowd; indeed, much of Segal’s onstage success is based on how he (not-so-gently, on occasions) nudges any naturally reluctant audience members into relaxing and responding as he needs them to do. Audience participation is always a double-edged sword for everyone involved, but an undoubted joy in any Segal show – and a source of much of their humour – is how he reacts to the audience’s reactions to what he’s doing on stage. That’s whether we’re talking about a deceptively simple-looking mind-reading act based around cards which the audience are asked to fill in before the show (indicating what they think would make them happy), or a statistically highly improbably selection of cards suggesting that good things really do happen to people surrounded by good (rather than negative) thoughts. Derren Brown might, inevitably, get a name-check, in terms of what they both do, but Segal is undoubtedly a far less unsettling presence in the room – and also has a far more fulsome beard. You certainly don’t feel like pointing at him and shouting “Burn the Witch!” even when what he’s done seems frankly impossible without at least some supernatural technology.
Between and during his various ‘tricks’ – to use the horrendously misappropriate phrase – Segal tells us about various aspects of happiness, including the results of decades of academic research into what makes us feel good – ensuring a show that’s “educational as well as ridiculous”. Feeling good, it would seem, ultimately comes down to being nice to – and making connections with – other people. Yes, winning the lottery might be a reasonably comfortable cushion on which to lay your head, but only materially. If you’re looking for a one-hour definition of feeling better about yourself, then you can’t go wrong with spending the time in Doug Segal’s company.