This is a proper throw back. Back in 2002, Downey made the finals of BBC's So You Think You're Funny?, alongside John Bishop and Jimmy Carr, demonstrating his ability to drop the funnies big time. Ten years on and having been hugely impacted by an unfortunate car crash, Downey returns to the Fringe.
Frankly my overriding emotion is one of sadness both for his loss and for what we can only presume is comedy's loss, too. For Downey stands up a meek version of his former energetic self, lacking material, and what he does deliver he does so with barely any comic timing. The show seems like a startling peer into the psyche of a man who has suffered loss, and experienced trauma.
Downey's material is lateral, unimaginative and rarely breaks smiles. He spends far too much time documenting what was clearly a terrible period personally some ten years ago and the car crash that left him severely injured. Without making his unfortunate situation relatable, comic or ironic, the show is merely recounting an awful accident, which is awkward at best. It seems the comic has struggled to find potential new material from the accident and instead relies on a lot of mediocre puns. In a bizarre turn of events, Downey responds to this vacant decade by playing clips of himself from ten years ago, when he was featured on televised, successful shows.
The mood during these clips, which he repeats three or four times, whilst dropping in limp references to this better time, is awkward, confused. Ten years of minimal to no public appearances seem to have tainted Downey's self-belief in his comic sense and I'm unsure he has yet got to grips with his voice and style again.
Some new material gained decent laughs, but there wasn't nearly enough of this to make up for the majority of the show. It seemed clear that he has thoughts about making a return to the circuit, but any new material will need to come complete with his old-style delivery and a dose of confidence once again.
I want to underline that Downey's potential for greatness is still there somewhere; he just needs to sit down and reclaim it. With said reclaiming, it would be great to see him back to his previous form in years to come.