Peter Brush: Dreams with Advert Breaks

One of the first things Peter Brush admits to the audience is that he’s “not very exciting”. This shouldn’t be an issue for a comedian, so long as they can use it to their advantage. Physically unintimidating, and remarkably similar in appearance, once suitably attired, to Wally, of Where’s Wally fame, Brush cuts a Woody Allen-esque figure on the stage, all awkwardness and self-pity; unfortunately he has little of the octogenarian’s wit, rhythm or timing, and can’t seem to make his inherent attributes work for him

A few sparkles of genuine deadpan punchlines bubble through the mishmash of otherwise isolated and under-cooked gags

Dreams with Advert Breaks is set of fragmented and disjointed jokes that stumble on from one to the next, pointing out the obvious, little, banal absurdities of life and growing up. There is no real conceptual framework. Initially, Brush’s self-aware down-beat manner invites sympathy and patience. A little patter about the lo-fi venue and acceptance of inadequacy seems to get the set going, but it soon becomes obvious that any consistent theme or concept, aside from a nebulous repetition of the differences between dreams and memories, is entirely lacking from his jokes. A self-fulfilling fatalism is the only overarching angle to the jokes, and a bizarrely apathetic tone goes hand in hand with a genuine lack of charisma on the stage, rather than any sort of attempt at intentional ironic failure to launch.

Despite the odd chuckle and well-placed punchline, Dreams with Advert Breaks is more dead than dead-pan. Defending many of his jokes as “weird and subtle”, or simply niche, and apparently deriding the more crowd-pleasing bits as too bland or not to his own taste, Brush’s own assertion, apparently borrowed from a previous reviewer, that he’s not good with working the crowd, proves to be mostly true. Nor is he particularly laugh-out-loud funny, although a few sparkles of genuine deadpan punchlines bubble through the mishmash of otherwise isolated and under-cooked gags. Instead of using his physical and social frailties to construct a consistent persona, Brush seems satisfied to highlight the contrived inadequacy of his work, and to little positive effect. 

Reviews by Josh Adcock

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The Blurb

Peter Brush returns to the Fringe with his second show after various acclaim for his first one. This one is about nostalgia, terrorism, the Muppets and trying to save an octopus from western oppression. ‘Compellingly hilarious... an original and achingly funny voice’ ****1/2 ( **** ( 'Unique observations which stand-ups crave' (Guardian). 'Yorkshire's answer To Woody Allen' (Harrogate Advertiser).