Stephen Carlin: Pandas vs Penguins

In this show comedian Stephen Carlin claims he can split the entirety of the human race into two separate camps: pandas and penguins. Pandas are solitary, fluffy creatures whilst penguins are communal. This seems to be the entirety of the comparison and, quite frankly, this concept isn’t strong enough to hold an entire show. So what? Who cares if they’re a panda or a penguin? It doesn’t mean anything and is a limp gimmick to try and involve the audience which falls at the first and almost every following hurdle. The show that results is a boring, superficial anatomy of the human race (mostly Scots vs. English) which painfully recycles jokes at a rate of knots.Carlin’s show is merely an updated version of the age-old “us vs. them” stand-up routine but lacks the proper insight and depth to inject some vigour into the tired old format. Understandably, the English come out the worse as ‘pandas’ but Carlin never really explains what is so terrible about pandas or brilliant about penguins.

Carlin began the show as a likeable figure; he has a cheeky rebellious glint in his eye which helps him keep the first part of the show afloat. However, the audience’s focus began to waver at the halfway mark and a muttering between two audience members stopped Carlin in his tracks, mid-joke. Mistaking the low voiced chat for heckling, Carlin dealt with the situation without any decorum or comedic backchat. He stopped the show and we all sat in silence for at least a minute whilst he floundered, bemused. This lack of professionalism marred the experience of the whole show and Carlin quickly lost his likeability.

It is difficult to pinpoint anything original in this set that is funny enough to salvage the show and Carlin is in danger of alienating his audience if he does not strike up a successful rapport with them. This set shows little promise but Carlin clearly has some talent as a comedian. All in all, whether you are panda or penguin I doubt that there’s much in this show to keep you interested.

Reviews by Stephanie Bartlett

The Blurb

Why must there be all this tension? Why can't we all get along? Like cats and dogs or English and Scots? Stephen hopes he can redefine gross oversimplifications to a simple, universal principal. ***** (Herald).