Steve Bugeja: Day Release

The title of Steve Budeja’s show is misleading. Budeja himself isn’t the one who has been given a short reprieve from serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure; rather, it is the father of his best friend, Amy, who has been given a day release from his sentence to attend his daughter’s wedding.

Budeja is a pro – solid writing and the delivery of a circuit veteran.

The bride-to-be is not just Budeja’s best friend – she is the girl with whom he shared his first kiss. Secretly (well, not so secretly if it forms a through-line to a show at the world’s biggest arts festival) harbouring the desire that they will one day be together, in April this year he agreed to collect her father from prison and drive him to the ceremony. The show is ostensibly about facing your fears – nothing groundbreaking there but every stand-up show with an extended narrative arc needs a moral to tie it all up.

The trip from the prison to the wedding forms the bulk of the hour but Budeja opens by sharing some facts about himself. For instance, he managed to get through an impressive number of books during a ‘lads’ holiday to Magaluf. Budeja sets himself up as a sort of over-cautious, almost neurotic geek – a taller Jon Richardson with better comic-timing wouldn’t be too far from the mark. This nerdy persona is in contrast with Budeja’s delivery. Every punchline (and there are plenty) hits home and the material itself is taut and extremely well-paced.

There are sections, by necessity, where the narrative dominates but these aren’t overly long and are punctuated with enough little gags to keep everything afloat. (Who knew an encounter with a Dyson Airblade could be so heartwarming!) At one point, Budeja has to interrupt his story to ask someone at the front to refrain from cracking their plastic cup, but even this is done confidently, with little disturbance to the show’s flow.

Some comics’ shows are easy to review in the sense that the effort that goes into crafting the hour is plain to see. Budeja is a pro – solid writing and the delivery of a circuit veteran. If you can manage a few flights of stairs, the fiver ticket price is a steal (I think some people got in for free as a result of that weird Pay What You Want at the door policy). Definitely a stand-up to look out for. 

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Performances

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The Blurb

Fresh from supporting Russell Kane on his national tour, this is the highly anticipated debut show from Steve Bugeja, the winner of the BBC Radio New Comedy Award 2013. As heard on BBC Radios 2 and 4, as wells as featuring on the BBC red button. Steve recently went to a friend's wedding and on the way had to pick up the bride's Dad who was leaving prison for the first time in 18 years. This is the story of what happened. ‘Mines big laughs and gentle pathos’ (Guardian). ‘Assured comedy, greater things surely await' (chortle.co.uk).

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